The COVID-19 related lockdowns, shelter in place rules, and social distancing guidelines mean that most Americans are spending their time at home and avoiding public places in order to be safe and reduce exposure during this time. But what about when the danger at home is just as real? For many, domestic violence is an issue that is now more present than ever when leaving the house is not an option. Men, women, and children are finding themselves at home, trapped with an abuser, and many cities, such as evidenced in this a recent CNN article (https://cnn.it/2ygBdlZ), are seeing a spike in domestic violence reports.
If you’re a victim or know someone who is, domestic violence organizations are encouraging victims to seek help. Victims of domestic violence face more social isolation in general. Abusers have more tactics at their disposal when victims can’t get away from home.
Finding Online Help
When looking for help, remember to consider how private your computer, Internet, and phone use are. Consider whether there’s anything you can and should do to prevent someone else from learning that you’re doing research or seeking help. Some victims, for instance, might use the same computer or device as the abuser, or might have a phone plan that allows the abuser to see the calls they make and receive. Other kinds of technology, like home security cameras and GPS in phones and cars, can also allow for monitoring by the abuser.
Seeking Help During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Even with schools, restaurants, and venues closing down, many domestic violence (DV) organizations, hotlines, and shelters are still willing to help. Victims can also seek help from the courts, law enforcement, and emergency services.
Domestic Violence Organizations and Shelters
Social distancing requirements and shelter-in-place orders make it even more difficult for domestic violence victims to seek help. Many shelters are working hard to remain open, and many DV organizations are taking calls and emails. Contact them if you need help.
DV organizations are also working to develop new strategies to support victims during the Coronavirus public emergency, including offering hotline services via online chat or texting in case victims cannot call with an abuser at home.
Below are links to DV organizations with information on how to stay safe during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: Staying Safe During COVID-19; online chat available at thehotline.org
- Futures Without Violence: Information on COVID-19 For Survivors, Communities, & DV/SA Programs
- RAINN: RAINN Is Here For You, No Matter What; online chat available at rainn.org
- Domesticshelters.org: COVID-19 articles available and online chat
- DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Coronavirus Resources for Survivors
- Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Response to Coronavirus & Resource Round-Up
Protection or Restraining Orders
Courts might be limiting hours of operation but many remain open for high priority cases—which usually includes emergency protection or restraining orders. Check your local court’s website for information on their hours and how cases are being scheduled. This resource from the National Center for State Courts provides a list of state court orders relating to domestic violence matters.
Also, some courts have self-help websites, domestic abuse service centers, or a victims’ service center with additional resources. A local DV organization might be able to assist you to navigate the court website or process.
If you have an order in place and the abuser violated the order, contact the police.
Emergency Services, Law Enforcement, and Hospitals
As shelter-in-place orders go into effect, know that they have exceptions for emergencies. To see if your city or state has a shelter-in-place order, check the websites for your state or local health department, city or mayor’s office, police department, or governor. You might find a frequently answered questions (FAQ) section that summarizes the order.
If MINES and Associates in your EAP, please know that we can also offer help in getting connected to help and resources to help in a domestic violence situation, and can also offer organization-wide training on domestic violence awareness and prevention. Call us today at 1-800-873-7138 to access services or learn more.
To Your Wellbeing,
The MINES Team
Resources provided in part by Nolo Legal press ©2020