“Life is a pressure cooker and whether you remain serene or become stressed out depends on how you handle that pressure.” Kevin Leman

A perfect storm has been defined as “a particularly violent storm arising from a rare combination of adverse meteorological factors.” Pressure cookers work by raising the temperature of boiling water, thereby speeding up the time it takes to boil, braise or stem.  So what happens when a perfect storm meets a pressure cooker?  If I were a cussing man, I’d say a shit storm.  But I’m not, so a pandemic pressure cooker will have to do.  Let me explain.

Back in December 2014, in a speech not too long after an Ebola outbreak, then President Barack Obama warned that “there may and likely will come a time in which we have both an airborne disease that is deadly … and in order for us to deal with that effectively we have to put in place an infrastructure … that allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond to it quickly.”  Fast forward to late 2019, Obama’s words proved to be prophetic and “deadly airborne disease” became more than a line in speech but the real deal called the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Problem is, by the time COVID-19 arrived, President Obama was long gone from the White House.

So late 2019/early 2020 COVID-19 began in China and spread around the world.  Many countries took note, took action and isolated and responded to the dreaded disease quickly.  The problem is, the United States saw it early but wasted precious time.  First by denying that it was a threat.  Then by declaring that we had it under control.  Finally, and even worse, let the President tell it, that the pandemic would somehow just “disappear!”   The President is a lie. The problem is pandemics don’t just go poof and disappear.  And “nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and tolerance armed with power.” (Voltaire) Cue up the perfect storm.  Pressure cooker clouds gather.

Indiana Governor Holcomb issued a “stay at home order” in March to combat the spread of COVID-19.  Everything from courts, gyms, restaurants, schools and beyond closed.  Businesses being forced to close meant that some people were all of a sudden out of work.  Daycares and schools being closed meant that children were all of sudden at home.  Children and adults being home instead of at work or school led to more consumption of utilities, food and other resources, meaningless or no income in some cases but more expenses. On top of the financial stress, many people were forced to deal with sickness or even the death of family.  On top of that, panic and fear of COVID-19 caused a run on grocery stores making common things like toilet paper and food very scarce or non-existent.  What all of this amounts to is people being forced together for an extended period of time with very little opportunity to escape and with no certainty as to “when will this be over.”

Much like a pressure cooker, when people are forced into air-tight situations and   “locked in” under all of the pressure is what causes people to reach their boiling point fast.   Yep, what we have here is a rare combination of adverse factors with people being under intense pressure for long periods of time—a perfect storm: a pandemic pressure cooker.  And as the opening quote suggested, how we deal with the pressure means everything.

One area where life’s pressure cooker has boiled over has been domestic violence.  Indiana has experienced a substantial increase of domestic violence calls.  A safety valve is the most important part of a pressure cooker because it releases excessive pressure and prevents it from exploding.  In relationships the safety valve that prevents relationships from exploding is often one person leaving the house for some “social distancing.”  Problem is, right now there’s no place to go and people are forced to shelter in place together—sadly sometimes with an abuser.  In addition, Indianapolis has seen an increase in deaths caused by overdose and suicides.

If you or a loved one is being forced to shelter in place with an abusive person, is suffering from addiction or depression, there is help.  The following resources are meant to provide everything from counseling, legal services, mental health counseling and even a place to stay to escape domestic violence:

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, www.samhsa.gov

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, www.thehotline.org

The Julian Center, 2011 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, (317) 920.9320, www.juliancenter.org

Coburn Place, 604 E. 38th Street, Indianapolis, (317) 923.5750

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1915 W. 18th Street, Suite B, Indianapolis, (800) 332.7385; https://icadinc.org

Indiana Legal Services, 615 N. Alabama Street, Suite 122, Indianapolis, (317) 635.9538, https://www.indylas.org

Corey L. Scott, Law Office of Corey L. Scott, 1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46204; [email protected]; @coreyscottlaw (twitter; Instagram; FaceBook)