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How corrections officers can feel safe at home

Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own home; here are some steps that corrections officers and their families can take to soothe their fears

Threats against COs and their families are very real. However, our reaction to them can sometimes be exaggerated because of our hypervigilance, PTSD or other anxieties as discussed in my previous article.

While you may find yourself constantly on the lookout while in your community or neighborhood, there must be a place in your life where you can let your guard down and feel safe. Feeling safe at home can be challenging when your spouse is a CO. Your spouse is at work more than you ever imagined and you’re left as the primary ‘defender’ of the house, so to speak. Some people are used to living alone and are comfortable with this situation.

However, for others, too many lonely hours at home can make you feel unsafe. Even our COs have a hard time relaxing when they are off-duty.

Have you ever thought about what being safe means? Or what the difference is between being safe and feeling safe? For most people, feeling safe means not feeling afraid. Therefore, feeling safe at home is basically a state of mind. We seek safety in both healthy and unhealthy ways. Some not-so-healthy methods are an overabundance of food, alcohol, and/or drugs.

Identifying triggers
If you’re feeling unsafe at home, try to identify specific triggers of your fear and eliminate them if you can. Do you stare out the windows watching ‘just in case’ something should happen? Close the curtains and walk away.

Do you watch horror movies before going to bed or when you’re alone? Sometimes even more docile shows like SVU or Grey’s Anatomy can be triggering because of their suspenseful nature.

Do you and your spouse argue too much? Sometimes just getting wrapped up in our own negative emotions can set our fear on edge.

How to calm down
Finding ways to calm your fears can take a lot of work and self-evaluation. Means of self-care have been a popular topic of discussion for some time now. However, if you are not familiar with them, here is a short list to get you started. Each person needs to experiment and find your own way of comforting yourself.

Keep in mind, what you need and what your spouse needs to feel safe may be different. What you many need is a home alarm, but what she might need is a pistol. What works for one person may not work for the other. Try some of these in different situations when your fear or level anxiety is rising and see if any of them work to soothe your fears and give you peace.

Steps for finding inner peace

1. Exercise – yoga, walking – it doesn’t have to be your spouse’s PT regimen!

2. Meditation – can be as simple as tuning out all other sounds and listening to music with headphones. I personally love guided meditations where a soothing voice takes my mind on a blissful journey for 15 minutes. A good book to introduce you to guided meditation is “Sitting Like a Frog.”

3. Breathe – find your breath, slow it down.

4. Spend time in nature.

5. Laughter is the best medicine – call a friend who makes you laugh, watch your favorite stand up. Force yourself to smile at strangers and be kind.

6. Find your faith/Embrace your beliefs – whatever they may be, dive deep and live them fully.

7. Read a good book – Immersing yourself into someone else’s world can momentarily take you away from yours.

8. Drink a cup of tea.

9. Make a special meal – Take your time cooking your favorite recipe or distract yourself with a new one.

10. Take a warm shower or bath – Soaking in epsom salts or a bubble bath is very soothing and relaxing. Try different aromatherapy oils in your bathwater.

Feeling safe is important. You deserve to have a place in your life where your anxiety or fears go away completely – and so does your CO. You are the only person in your life who can figure out what triggers your fear and what calms it.

This makes it challenging for others to help, even if they want to. To help ourselves, we must become really good detectives to identify things that instill the feeling of safety and eliminate or minimize things that cause us to feel unsafe.

And as always, remember that you are not alone.

Brandy Aldriedge is the wife of a Corrections Officer in Vermont. Her spouse has been a CO for 5 years. Brandy has previously been a Research Assistant in Biochemistry and has a B.A. in International Business. She is dedicated to strengthening communities and families through her work with the Neighborhood Watch Program and Not In Our Town initiative. She is concerned about the health and well-being of Corrections Officers and their families. She wishes to bring more positive attention to the field of corrections and is working to develop a support network for COs and CO spouses similar to those of other uniformed personnel.