Staying home is the safest place to be during the current health crisis, but is it really safe for everyone?
Victims of abuse and violence no longer have the safe haven resources that were once available to them.
The shelter in place forces victims of domestic violence and their children into a dangerous situation.
The coronavirus pandemic has prevented victims from seeking counseling services and dismantled any exit plans many victims may have been planning for months.
Domestic violence has likely increased during this pandemic, according to Katie Ray-Jones, president and CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a service that connects victims of domestic violence with local and regional resources.
”Calls to the National Hotline since the start of state shutdowns are startling.” Ray-Jones says, ”A woman called in and said when she tried to go to work at an essential business, her abusive partner began to load his firearm to scare her into staying. Another caller said that her partner threatened to expose her to the virus on purpose and swore he wouldn’t pay for treatment if she fell ill.”
New York’s Nassau County, domestic violence is up 10% compared to last year, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told CNN affiliate WLNY.
The Cincinnati-based organization Women Helping Women is receiving 30% more calls now since the self-isolation started, CNN affiliate WCPO reported.
Emotional and physical abuse to children has also increased, according to Jeffrey Edleson, professor and dean emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare.
”Many of the resources that abused women and children use for safety to get away from violence are no longer available,” Edleson told CNN.
Coronavirus-related child abuse has already been reported in states like Fort Worth, Texas, a children’s hospital said last week. They’ve treated several severe child abuse cases in the span of a week, according to hospital staff.
”Local, regional, and national organizations are still operating as essential organizations under several states stay-at-home orders, but the way they deliver their services has changed.
In many cases, it’s no longer possible for victims to meet with caseworkers, and many women’s shelters have stopped accepting new clients to protect their current residents.” Ray-Jones said.
Although multiple social workers are working remotely and getting resources out to as many victims as they can, there are still a high number of victims that advocates can’t reach.
If you or someone you know are a victim of abuse, there are always resources available.
For victims who don’t have access to the internet, a phone, family, and friends, should reach out to advocates on their behalf.
National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453