The pandemic has created a whole new set of rules to live by. We’ve been encouraged to stay at home and avoid unnecessary social interactions with family and friends. The public health reasoning behind this is personal safety. But what if for you, home is an unsafe place?
If you live in an abusive home, stay-at-home orders may be forcing you to stay in an unsafe environment with your abuser. Reports from the National Domestic Violence Hotline indicate that instances of domestic violence have been worsening during the pandemic. Perpetrators are using the health crisis as a way to psychologically manipulate abuse victims – by threatening them if they contract the virus as well as isolating them from friends, family and safe spaces outside of the home.
Lack of support
The public health crisis has made it difficult for victims of abuse to access the support they need. Under normal circumstances, they may be able to escape to work or to a relative’s home. However, in the current environment, offices may be closed, and close contact with relatives may not be an option.
In addition, as medical facilities are currently struggling to respond to the growing coronavirus cases –access to medical care or therapy for abuse victims has become more challenging. Abuse victims may also be fearful of going to a medical clinic, out of fear of contracting the virus.
Reporting abuse through the usual channels has also become more of a challenge. Calling a hotline may not be possible to do covertly when a perpetrator and victim are home together all day.
Options for relief
During times of crisis, already abusive situations tend to get worse. Domestic violence advocates encourage victims who are not currently in quarantine to seek help right away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has adapted the way it operates during the pandemic. In addition to calling, it now offers text and online chat options for victims to report abuse and seek help.
There are also legal protections for domestic abuse victims. An important first step is to obtain a domestic violence protective order against your abuser. This will force your abuser to stay away from you and avoid any contact with you. With this order, the court could also give you temporary sole ownership of your shared home – so you’ll have a safe place to stay.
No one deserves to live in threat of danger. If your safety is in jeopardy, support is available. One phone call can change your life for the better.