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Domestic Abuse During a Pandemic

The year 2020 is now behind us but in many ways, we are still living through a full scale pandemic.  COVID-19 hit this world  and affected us in a large number of ways we did not expect.  For many, being forced to stay in their homes, brought on anxiety, depression and other forms of health issues.  For a person who lives in a home where there is domestic abuse during a pandemic,it is even worse.  During COVID-19, a time when we are forced to shelter in place, or lockdown together, or just limit our gatherings, it can feel as if there is no means of escape for a person living in this situation.

Before the the pandemic, one or more of the parties typically went to work, leaving the home.  For at least part of the day, the abused party had some reprieve from her abuser, however, when nobody can leave, it’s a deadly situation.  In fact, 9-1-1 centers across America are reporting an extremely higher than usual call volume of domestic violence calls. In some cities, there are riots, protests and more that are using up our police resources.  This makes it even more difficult to respond to domestic abuse during a pandemic and living in a dangerous  home.

If you believe you know someone who is living in an abusive situation, here are some things you can do to help:

Visit https://www.thehotline.org/plan-for-safety/ first for some tips on what to do.

  • Reach out to your loved one regularly
  • Talk or text about normal things – the abuser may be listening to or reading the conversations
  • If there is anything you can do to reduce stress in their home, do so.  For example, if they have lost their income and you have the means to help in any way, that can reduce the stress.  However, be cautious how you do this as it could be seen by the abuser in the wrong light.
  • If you do have a chance to speak with your loved one privately, assess the situation and develop some code words so that you can be alerted if you need to call the authorities on her behalf

It’s important to keep in mind that Leaving an abusive relationship can be scary for a number of reasons. Often, the path to a person’s support system (family) has been severed by the abuser. It’s also a fact that leaving is the most dangerous time. Your friend or family member may elect to stay or even return to her abuser.  There are many reasons for this. (see staying).

Some things to keep in mind if you are the one in this situation, check out this article with some information about safety on leaving an abusive relationship:

  1. Visit https://www.thehotline.org/create-a-safety-plan/ to work out a confidential safety plan with a professional.
  2. Find a trusted friend or family member you can talk to about your situation.  Only talk to them when you know there is no chance of being recorded or overheard.
  3. Take your time to put your plan of escape into motion.  Do not be hasty.
  4. Make sure you are truly ready to leave and stay gone. Leaving is the most dangerous time.
  5. Be sure you are emotionally prepared for your abuser’s reconciliation attempts. They will be very tempting and will play on your heart.
  6. Have a safe place in mind that you can get to immediately where you (and your children, if you have children) can stay for a period of time.

If you are working on your plan and need legal advice during this phase, contact our office.  Christine has over 20 years of experience working with families in stressful situations and can guide you on the process over a course of time.  This will not be a quick or easy process but having someone with experience can help you through it.  Contact us here.

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