The last 18 months or so have been hard for every one of us.
If you have children, home schooling has felt near impossible. If you are single, the loneliness has been unbearable. But what if you've been locked down while in an unhealthy, violent or abusive relationship?
Suddenly our "hellish" lockdown feels more palatable.
For many who experience domestic violence, the lockdown has provided a pressure cooker environment. According to statistics from the Illawarra Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, there has been a worrying trend in the number of new clients using the service.
In particular, the number of young women aged between 16 and 24-years-old referred since 2019 has increased by 47 per cent.
In Zoe Cartwright's article, Michelle Glasgow, of Illawarra Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service said: "They didn't have access to their usual coping mechanisms, and the closure of schools, uni and sports made young people in volatile homes very vulnerable."
The service has raised concerns about the support available for this particular age group. The funding they have to provide support to young females ends in December, but for these women, the cycle of abuse continues.
If you're a regular reader of the Mercury you'll know that our journalists report on what feels like a steady stream of domestic violence cases appearing before the courts.
They sit in on cases about men and women of all ages and backgrounds.
Our job is to report the facts and to show justice being served. It's a fine balance between telling the truth and ensuring we're not salacious with the facts. It's a difficult job where we have to listen to heartbreaking stories of abuse.
But this work is essential.
These stories should not be swept under the carpet. Our work informs the public so advocacy for essential services like the Illawarra Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service can occur.
- Gayle Tomlinson
If you need help, call NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63.
The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.