Barriers to Self-Care for Victims of Domestic Violence

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and social media platforms have been flooded with messages touting the importance of self-care and wellness. Influencers are making TikToks about their nutritionally perfect smoothie blends, posting photos of their beautiful vacations, and detailing their yoga excursions. However, these elaborate displays of self-care are flat out inaccessible for the majority of people, let alone victims of domestic violence.


“Sometimes self-care is just drinking a little bit more water today than yesterday,” says Maria Lagattuta, director of JBWS’ Morris Family Justice Center. “It doesn’t always have to be a big deal or take up a large portion of your time.”


Practicing self-care becomes even more complicated when you’re a victim of domestic violence because you’re living in a constant state of survival. It’s almost insensitive to ask a victim to prioritize their mental wellness in these glamorous, mainstream ways when they’re constantly wondering how they’re going to keep themselves and their children safe.


“Certain elements of self-care are for the privileged,” says Maria. “But that doesn’t mean that victims of domestic violence cannot engage in self-care practices that make sense for them.”


Breaking down self-care into very small pieces may help some victims of domestic violence with the effects of chronic stress, depression, and anxiety. However, it must be in practical ways, such as drinking more water, going for a five-minute walk outside, or sitting in the sun, not Instagram ways.