The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous and deadly toll on so many vulnerable people and some experts fear having to shelter in place and isolate will uniquely and negatively affect domestic abuse victims.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline warns "an abuser may take advantage of an already stressful situation to gain more control," this can be especially dire for someone being forced to quarantine with someone who is abusive. The pandemic could lead to these troubling possibilities for people being abused:
- Abusers may withhold vital items like soap, hand sanitizer or disinfectants
- Abusers could share false information related to the virus to control, instill fear and prevent someone from seeking medical attention
- Abusers may withhold insurance information or cancel someone's insurance in order to prevent them from seeking medical aid
- Access to services like shelters may be limited, or someone might fear seeking help at a shelter out of fear of possibly contracting the virus
- An individual's safety plan could be affected by travel restrictions
- Abusers may feel more emboldened and increase isolation tactics often used on victims
In order to hopefully ensure your safety during this uncertain time, National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends to:
- Create a Safety Plan. "A personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Here at The Hotline, we safety plan with victims, friends, family members, and anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else." Get more information on safety plans.
- Practice Self Care If Possible. "Getting through this time while experiencing abuse can feel really overwhelming. Taking time for your health and wellness can make a big difference in how you feel." Learn more about safe self-care.
- Reach Out For Help. "You may feel isolated from your friends and family. Even if you are isolated, try to maintain social connections online or over the phone, if it is safe to do so, and try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible," the organization states.
If you or someone you know needs help, domestic abuse resources are available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
Stay informed on the latest information on the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and learn about prevention methods and what to do if you are infected.