During this Covid-19, coronavirus outbreak, there are countless people like us at SAFE International who have zero work for an unforeseen time, but of most concern to me how can we help those who experience Domestic Violence because the occurrences of it are going up?
During this time we presume our homes to be the safest place for us. It is for most individuals, but for victims of domestic violence, it is the worst. They shut you in with your abuser in a strained, more dangerous environment. And as time in isolation increases, so does the build up of the stress.
The stress of unemployment, the unknown, sickness, and death is experienced by both the abuser and the victim, but the abuser will take it out on their victim most times.
This pandemic helps the offender’s method to isolate their victim. They can manipulate even further than normal under the rules we are being placed under.
Many of the relief outlets for victims of abuse are closed, and while they may be accessible online or by phone, it is difficult to access them when the abuser is in the home with the ability to monitor every step you make. The calls to sexual assault hotlines will go up which means an increase in violence, but the numbers of sexual assault and violence will be with the victim afraid to call while under the same roof as their attacker.
Courts are closed so any attempts to seek restraining orders on hold. Not that a restraining order will do much, but is yet part of the process in ending domestic violence for many.
Many sufferers of abuse save money for a prolonged period in their plan to leave, but with unemployment they may face, they may drain monies saved to escape their victimizer.
“An unintended but foreseeable consequence of these drastic measures will be increased stress at home, which in turn creates a greater risk for domestic violence,” the senators wrote. – Washington Post
And you may notice that stores selling liquor, beer, and wine which many consider an essential service, so with the stress of Covid-19, the abuser may increase or turn to alcohol making the isolation with their victim more volatile. Some insist we should shut down this service, but taking away the alcohol may also have negative effects. There is no simple solution or answer.
In addition to the above mentioned, children of abuse are also at a much greater risk of abuse when confined to the home.
“A lot of young adults I’ve spoken with who’ve been exposed to violence at home often find close friends, friends’ parents, relatives and teachers who are supportive of them,” he said. “It helps buffer the impact of what’s going on at home. But all of that is missing.”- CNN
This pandemic will end, and life for many will go back to some level of normalcy, but the violence will not end for victims of child abuse and domestic violence. Sexual Assault hotline services online and by phone are adjusting the best they can to help, but is a challenging task.
If you are aware of a victim of abuse, can you reach out safely to them to offer support? Could you offer to contact services for them without putting them at risk?
I am challenged to find solutions, but anyway you might be able to support victims of abuse without increasing the risk for them should be considered.
Managing Director, SAFE International