An act of domestic violence occurs every 15 seconds in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Estimated to affect 12 million people every year, domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls per day. Domestic violence even seeps into the workplace: Nearly 8 million days of paid work each year are lost due to domestic violence issues. Here at Appriss, helping victims of domestic violence is part of our core mission of providing "Knowledge for Good." The better informed victims are, the better they can anticipate a threat to their own safety.
The stress and isolation created by COVID-19 shelter-at-home mandates has increased the potential for domestic violence. While the most profound expressions of domestic violence are physical injuries, abuse victims — including children and the elderly — can also be mistreated emotionally. Children are at particular risk these days, away from the watchful eye of teachers and friends who might otherwise see the signs.
COVID-19 has intensified this violence significantly, raising its probability where patterns of abuse are already in place and making it much more difficult for victims to leave abusive households. The power and control that is core to domestic violence assumes that no one can forge a path to safety given the circumstances created by the coronavirus.
Though the CDC recommends families stay in their homes and limit their exposure to others, domestic violence victims still have options. Many victims who have seen their abusers get apprehended for their crimes may experience renewed anxiety about their incarcerated offender's whereabouts. A resource like VINE, the nation's leading victim notification network, could provide peace of mind to survivors of domestic violence during uncertain times.
Listed below are online resources that can help those who are struggling, whether the situation requires fleeing immediately or developing a plan. Appriss also has key partnerships with national victims services organizations committed to stopping domestic violence and protecting victims, such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), and the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC).
National Network to End Domestic Violence: This website includes valuable information about programs, survivor resources and local domestic violence shelter programs. Their COVID-19 information can be accessed here: https://nnedv.org/latest_update/resources-response-coronavirus-covid-19.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: This website shares information about creating a safety plan, leaving a relationship and legal information. Information specific to COVID-19 is located here: https://www.thehotline.org/2020/03/13/staying-safe-during-covid-19.
Sometimes it’s not possible to go online and research your next step — especially if you’re sheltering-at-home with your abuser. Following here is a list of phone numbers you can call:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
As we all work hard to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, remember support is there for survivors of domestic violence.