Millions of Americans have been ordered to stay home in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. While that might not seem like too much to ask, for victims of domestic violence, it is downright dangerous.
While there aren't statistics available yet in the U.S., China has reported an increase in domestic violence since the pandemic began, with reports of domestic violence to the local police tripling last month compared to the previous year, according to Axios.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there were actually fewer reports of domestic violence when the lockdowns in the U.S. started. But the organization's CEO believes that is because it's more difficult for victims to report because their abusers are always around.
Of the calls that were received, some victims said their abusers were using COVID-19 as a basis for abuse, such as by forcing a victim to wash her hands until they bled or threatening to kick a victim out so that she would be exposed. Many other callers said their abusers were using the outbreak as a reason to control them and close them off from friends and family.
Abusers often strive for control, and the pandemic has left nearly everyone with a loss of control. Abusers are likely to take their anxiety out on their victims, who now don't have the ability to escape to work or a friend's house, the abuse hotline's CEO explained.
Making matters worse, victims may decide not to get the medical treatment they need our of fear of contracting the virus.
There is also concern that children will suffer more abuse because they are not in school. Under normal circumstances, one in 15 kids is exposed to domestic violence each year in the U.S., with 90% of the kids eye-witnessing the violence.
No matter what type of abuse is happening, it's extremely important that victims have the resources to help them, such as shelters, hotlines, therapists, and counselors. Though they may be more difficult to find during the pandemic, most resources are still available by phone and online.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is also working on new strategies to help victims currently under shelter-in-place orders and similar lockdowns, such as help through chat services.
Even courts that have temporarily shuttered their doors are often able to grant emergency orders online, and most legal aid clinics and family law attorneys are transitioning to providing legal services remotely.
For victims who are not in quarantine, now is the time to get help. Futures Without Violence has a great list of resources for survivors, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.