COVID-19 cases are surging across states, and domestic violence is on the rise as families are forced together into close quarters without the temporary reprieve of work, school or errands. Unfortunately, for more than 12 million victims of domestic violence, spending additional time at home is more troublesome than peaceful.
Official reporting on domestic violence won’t be released until next year, but already cities around the U.S. are reporting an increase in domestic violence-related crimes and homicides. This includes cities like Memphis, Milwaukee and the New Orleans area. Just outside of Fort Worth, Texas, in Tarrant county, domestic violence homicides have doubled.
Lynell Ross, the Resource Director for Test Prep Insight, is also a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Child Advocate for Placer County. In her work with foster children, she has seen a direct response to the pandemic. “With the added stress of people losing jobs, problems with finances, and having to help teach children at home, couples who were already in a difficult situation are now feeling overwhelmed,” she explains.
“Spouses or partners who already resort to verbal and physical abuse may feel more out of control and take their anger out on their partner or family.”
Ross worries that this will cement a growing trend. “Health professionals are concerned that the incidents of domestic partner violence will dramatically rise because couples are shut off from other people and are spending more time alone together. During a quarantine lockdown, spouses who experience violence may have nowhere to go and be trapped in a dangerous situation.”
Domestic violence is all too common in America today.
The CDC’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey is widely used for domestic violence statistics, and even a decade ago, the statistics were concerning.
Additionally, the National Institute of Corrections reports that women ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline shows that 1 in 10 high school students has experienced physical violence from a romantic partner.
“Domestic violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” warns Michelle Jewsbury, an international philanthropist speaker and survivor of abuse. “Women are more susceptible to violent situations if they grew up in families where violence was accepted and boundaries weren’t acknowledged. Children who witness domestic violence are 15 times more likely to become victims of child abuse.”
We asked Morris about whether she has seen any difference in domestic violence reports with the pandemic. “In my office 100x,” she says resolutely. “I get calls during the middle of the night and early in the morning for help.”
“Violent people are usually controlling and can be manipulative,” says Ross. “If you feel threatened or are afraid in any way, that is not a healthy relationship. No one deserves to be bullied, put down, made fun of or trapped.”
As a survivor, she opted to turn her experience into a kind of personal therapy that, in turn, helps others. “It wasn’t until I began documenting my story on paper that I realized how bad the abuse was,” she says. “I was a strong, independent woman prior to this relationship, yet I fell victim. I also learned how prevalent domestic violence is in society.”
Smart home technology could also be a tool that saves your life. Many of the best home security systems are both affordable and reliable, and they can provide the proof you need to press charges against your abuser. These cameras can serve as an extra set of eyes to watch over what happens in your home – especially if you have children or pets.
However, just as you can use smart home tech, your abuser can just as easily use it against you. Remain vigilant in sweeping your home for cameras or alarms and check your router for anything not immediately visible.
24/7 hotline and resource for domestic violence victims and survivors
Phone Number: 1-800-799-72331-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Love is Respect
Resources and support for domestic violence with a focus on healthy relationships
Phone Number: 1-866-331-9474
Resource dedicated to child abuse
Phone Number: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Free technical assistance, training and resource materials for domestic violence intervention and prevention
Phone Number: 1-800-537-2238
National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Improves health care response to domestic violence by working with health care practitioners, administrators, domestic violence experts, survivors and policymakers
Phone Number: 1-888-792-2873
A comprehensive listing of shelters and resources for domestic violence victims
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN)
24/7 hotline and support for sexual assault victims and survivors
Website: https: www.rainn.org/contact-us
Domestic violence assistance and support
Phone Number: 1-800-621-HOPE
National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
An easy-to-understand legal resource in cooperation with WomensLaw.org
Phone Number:1-800-799-7233TTY 1-800-787-3224
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
Native nonprofit that addresses domestic violence for Indian women in conjunction with the National Indian Resource Center (NIRC)
Phone Number: 855-649-7299
Battered Women’s Justice Project Criminal and Civil Justice Center
Tackles the legal issues of domestic violence and provides technical support to advocates, attorneys, judges and law enforcement
Phone Number: 1-800-903-0111, ext 1
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
Offers comprehensive and culturally-sensitive support to survivors and their children who have experienced trauma from domestic abuse
Phone Number: 312-726-7020
Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody
Provides resources and assistance regarding child protection and custody
Phone Number: 1-800-527-3223
National LGBTQ Institute on Intimate Partner Violence
Committed to the safety and security of bisexual, trans, lesbian and gay victims of domestic and dating violence
Phone Number: 206-568-7777
National Domestic Violence Awareness Month may have come to an end with October, but for millions of victims worldwide, domestic violence knows no date. Still, it’s important to summon your courage and reach out because there are countless channels of support waiting to support and protect victims of domestic abuse.