The Hidden Threat of COVID-19: Domestic Violence

With most people under strict order to shelter-in-place due to COVID-19, the threat of domestic violence is rising.

Under normal circumstances, school and work both create a respite for victims and their families. Yet with employees and children ordered to work from home to prevent the virus from spreading, abusers are given new opportunities to control and isolate victims. Which may include potentially communicating false information about the virus to further control them.

Domestic violence is already a grave threat. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 10 million people each year are physically abused by an intimate partner, and 20,000 calls are placed each day to domestic violence hotlines. Researchers also estimate that between 3.3 million and 10 million children are exposed to adult domestic violence each year.

The COVID-19 outbreak is putting stress on families across the U.S., but for families who are the most vulnerable to domestic abuse, the stress is even greater. 

Imagine living with someone you fear every day. Now imagine how you would feel if you could never leave your house because your abuser is always at your side. Imagine also if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from because your abuser controls the pocketbook. Next, imagine that if you do leave, your abuser has the power to coerce you to return to his side. And you do because victims in this situation are far less likely to have the opportunity to reach out for help.

Valley Oaks Beyond the Violence program checks in on our victims several times a week to make sure they are safe. Lately, “over the phone safety plans” are increasing. Even if victims are not living with their abusers, they are vulnerable because the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak could mean returning to the abuser. Now more than ever, our support as advocates and case managers is vital to keeping victims safe.

Anyone believing they are in danger should call 911. If you live in Fountain or Warren Counties you can call Beyond the Violence at 765-762-6187 or the emergency line 765-299-6283. We are here to help.

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