As this pandemic sweeps across the world, many cities, states, and countries have had to impose stay-at-home orders to keep their residents safe. However, some people are finding that staying at home with family members can be just as dangerous, and even as deadly, as COVID-19.
Reports of domestic violence have been skyrocketing world-wide in recent weeks.
CNN published an explanation from experts about our current situation and the impact created by stay-at-home orders. “Victims might find themselves stuck in close quarters with abusive partners, family members or acquaintances, making them more susceptible to abuse and lacking the privacy and space to freely reach out to the outside world for help.”
They also explained how the pandemic could intensify problems in the home. “Experts say that abusive environments can grow all the more so under the stresses created by stay-at-home orders and other uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.”
Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, recently warned authorities around the world that “[f]or many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest — in their own homes… Over the past weeks, as the economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying surge in domestic violence.”
Guterres continued his address by asking governments to stay vigilant and do their best to provide help and safety to those most affected right now.
According to the CDC, “1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men” in the United States experience domestic violence at some point in their life, which adds up to approximately “43 million women and 38 million men.”
While those statistics from the CDC are already alarming, the numbers are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandatory stay-at-home orders.
In order to visualize this current increase in numbers, all you have to do is look at New York City’s domestic violence resource site, NYC Hope, which has recently seen a massive surge in website traffic. According to an article from CNN, “Website visits more than doubled — going from about 45 visits per day to 115 visits per day — from the period of March 18 to April 5.”
- Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
- Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
- Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
- Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted –- shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.
- Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers, or courthouses.
- Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for them to use public transportation or to fly.
- An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.
Unfortunately, Grant County is not immune to these global and national issues, as local authorities are also reporting an increase in domestic violence incidents and calls in recent weeks.
We recently spoke with Captain Stephen Dorsey of the Marion Police Department, who told us they have definitely seen an increase of calls in Marion.
January and February have been consistent with the past year. As we go into the COVID-19 pandemic, from March 13th through the 31st, there have been 30 battery calls, 16 of those were Domestic. And we’re just getting into April and we’ve had 6. It has risen.
We also spoke with Tammy Wolf who serves as a victims’ advocate for the Marion Police Department.
Unfortunately, being isolated gives opportunity for abusers to unleash more violence. Isolation causes cabin fever, mood swings, restlessness and even depression. Couples quarantined should talk more, google new recipes and cook together, watch TV together… this can strengthen their bond. Have “time away” a little each day; divided chores in different parts of the house; one person carrying the burden of all chores can be hard on a relationship. If issues arise during isolation, separate, take a walk, listen to relaxing music, work in the garage, read or draw — anything that can calm the situation.
In addition to the suggestions from Tammy Wolf, the CDC also has recommendations on its website to help prevent domestic violence.
If you currently find yourself in an abusive, violent situation, there are multiple places for you to reach out for help and support during this time.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation, please call 911.
Otherwise, here are some phone numbers and resources you can use in a non-emergency situation:
Grant County Sheriff’s Department: 765-662-9836
Marion Police Department: 765-662-9981
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Domestic Violence Hotline Online Chat: https://www.thehotline.org/what-is-live-chat/
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
National Sexual Assault Hotline Online Chat: https://hotline.rainn.org/online
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
We care deeply about victims of all abuse, and while we know it may be difficult during this time, we implore anyone being hurt or abused to find some way to reach out — whether that’s to the authorities, to a hotline, or even to a friend or family member. Your safety is the number one priority during this pandemic, whether the threat comes from the outside world or from inside your own home. You are worth it.