Domestic Violence Awareness in Difficult times
Updated: Mar 21
This is new territory and the landscapes of our communities are changing at an incredible speed. Recently there have been a number of articles discussing how social distancing/ quarantining at home increases incidents of domestic violence. According to Axios, during the lockdowns in China, domestic violence emergency calls tripled compared to the previous year. The United States will be no different.
People living in abusive homes can no longer escape abuse by going to work or visiting friends. Abusers may threaten to withhold medical care or treatment, and survivors may avoid getting needed medical help because of fears of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital. Financial impacts will make situations worse as unemployment increases. We know that a lack of financial security can trigger abusive episodes and is also a major barrier for survivors who want to leave. They often have very little money and leave behind their documentation such as social security cards and driver's licenses. Without those documents, it's nearly impossible to find employment. Isolation is a weapon used by abusers to separate survivors from their support system and a quarantine is enforced isolation. This isolation will make it far more difficult for survivors to seek help. Survivors of domestic violence use the time they have away from their abuser (while they are at work or while their abuser is at work) to seek help. Digital communications, such as social media outlets, become much more essential when making phone calls from home are not an option. At The Willow, we have a 24-hour call center hotline AND a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts where messages are monitored. Advocates will respond.
In situations where a person does not feel safe leaving home, we can speak with them about safety planning. Safety planning involves planning for the possibility of needing to flee, identifying safe people in your life to help, knowing where the entrances and exits are and having a plan to get to them as quickly as possible, and focusing on safe spaces to go in the house if leaving is not an option. We are not standing by while this happens. The Willow is actively seeking to purchase a second shelter home through our Growing Forward capital campaign which will greatly increase the number of people we can shelter. We are paying attention to the work being done both locally and nationally to provide services to survivors in these unusual circumstances, and we are working with public health officials regularly to ensure both our advocates and our survivors are as safe as possible. We will be regularly posting updates on COVID-19 and its impact on our shelter and domestic violence nationally. Our goal remains the same: break the cycle of violence through shelter, support, and services.
Please check on your neighbors, friends, and family to make sure they are doing okay. Keep up-to-date on information about COVID-19 and if you can, donate to help us keep up stocks of much-needed cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products during this difficult time. Be sure to use the donation designation "COVID-19 Relief" so we get your funds directly to those most in need during this time.
Thank you for your support, and we appreciate being part of a community that cares so deeply about its people