As the cases of COVID-19 rise, as do cases of domestic violence. A mandatory stay-at-home order has forced families to remain behind closed doors.
Before I continue, this is the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Supporters are available to help 24/7 anonymously and free of charge. Chatting online is also available on thehotline.org/help!
To flatten the curve, survivors are running into more conflicts more often because families are constantly together in isolated homes away from resources. However, the United Nations strongly advocated for governments to put the safety of women first during throughout pandemic (The New York Times).
Although, as many nations have neglected to do in the past, governments have not taken the proper measures to take away chances from abusers.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “one in three women and one and four men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.”
Yes, domestic violence does not discriminate against race, religion, or sex. In fact, it makes up for about 15% of violent crimes (NCADV). However, not all abuse is only physical violence; verbal and psychological abuse is easily concealed as there are no visible wounds.
April is sexual assault awareness month. Educating the public is the first step to preventing domestic violence. Any form of domestic violence is unacceptable, but many do not see the effects of abuse behind closed doors. Many times, those who are stuck in abusive situations are between a rock and hard place.
Domestic violence also does not discriminate against geographic location. Since COVID-19 protocols were put in place, there has been a recent upsurge in these cases and calls not only in the U.S., but also around the world.
According to New York Times’ recent article interviewing women around the world, “while Lele [a 26-year-old Chinese woman] was holding her 11-month-old daughter, her husband began to beat her with a high-chair. She is not sure how many times he hit her. Eventually, she says, one of her legs lost feeling and she fell to the ground, still holding the baby in her arms.”
Domestic violence is embedded in the need for power and control. With COVID-19 stripping away control from many individuals, others feel the need to take control from their victims in the way they see necessary.
Honestly, it is terrifying because we need to contain this virus since numbers are continuously increasing globally. However, what do we do when our current situation makes it harder for survivors to reach out and escape abusive situations?
Many individuals are also unemployed because they are not seen as essential workers, so survivors may have to depend on the income of their abuser to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Prior to the pandemic, survivors may have had the ability to escape to their parents’ or friend’s home.
But, survivors have been in a constant state of neglect, so they may feel like they are burdening others, putting them at risk of COVID-19, or taking up space. So, many may not reach out because they do not want to put others in an uncomfortable situation.
According to Time, “I spoke to a female caller in California that is self-quarantining for protection from COVID-19 due to having asthma,” an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline wrote in the organization’s logbook. “Her partner strangled her tonight. While talking to her, it sounded like she has some really serious injuries. She is scared to go to the ER due to fear around catching COVID-19.”
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is doing their best to remove survivors from the situation and relocating them to safe shelters, but I think that also requires the government to provide more funding toward safe shelters, legal advocates and mental health services.