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25 COVID-19 Domestic Violence Resources

The coronavirus pandemic and global lockdown has been a time of great uncertainty and fear for everyone. As COVID-19 continues to sweep the nation and the death toll rises, cities and states across the country are encouraging residents to “Stay Safe, Stay Home” or remain “Healthy at Home,” implementing strict stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What many people don’t realize is that there are many individuals and families for whom home is not a safe place to be during the coronavirus quarantine. In Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker’s “stay-at-home” order has been extended until at least May 30, and while restrictions on movement may serve to reduce the spread of the virus, victims of domestic violence are suddenly finding themselves trapped at home with their abusers in the midst of a global pandemic, with limited opportunities for seeking help or support.

Domestic Violence During COVID-19

Not only do victims of domestic violence have reduced access to medical care and support services as a result of the quarantine, many are facing additional challenges like reduced income and/or job loss. Without reliable income, many domestic violence victims will have a difficult time saving up enough money to leave their abusers.

And with the imminent risk of COVID-19, they may also feel as though they cannot turn to friends or family members for help, for fear of exposing them to the virus. Times are challenging for everyone right now, but for domestic violence victims confined to their homes with abusive partners, the quarantine could make them more vulnerable to brutal attacks and prevent them from getting the help they need.

Coronavirus Isolation Compounds Violence

According to experts, victims of domestic violence usually call for help when their abusers are at work or away from the house. During the quarantine, victims may not have the opportunity make that crucial phone call. Rebecca Darr, CEO of WINGS, the largest domestic violence service provider in Illinois, calls the coronavirus quarantine a “perfect storm” for abuse, noting that many victims are sheltered at home with increased anxiety over health and finances causing tensions to rise. Since the beginning of the quarantine, states across the country have reported a spike in domestic violence calls, which some say was a predictable side effect of COVID-19 isolation, considering the fact that isolation tends to compound violence. Even in areas where reports of domestic violence have dropped, law enforcement officials say that may signal a problem. With fewer private moments to make calls during quarantine, people experiencing abuse may find it more difficult to reach out for help at a time when they need it the most.

Types of Domestic Violence

Most people think of domestic violence as physical abuse perpetrated by one partner against another, but not all abusive relationships involve physical acts of violence. Domestic violence can also come in the form of psychological, emotional, sexual or economic abuse.

Common tools of intimate partner abuse wielded by abusive and controlling partners include constant surveillance, strict rules for behavior, isolation from friends and loved ones, and restrictions on access to basic necessities like food, clothing and money. The following are some common types of domestic violence that may arise during COVID-19:

Governments Urged to Put Women’s Safety First

People who are experiencing domestic violence in their relationships and families may be dealing with increased isolation and elevated danger due to social distancing measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing can easily turn into social isolation and being isolated from friends, family, neighbors and colleagues can make victims of domestic violence more vulnerable to violence or abuse.

In fact, evidence suggests that domestic abuse occurring in homes around the world is flourishing in the conditions created by the global pandemic, and governments and domestic abuse organizations are now struggling to address this growing public health crisis.

“We know that the statewide hotline is getting a lot of calls and they are trying to pass them through us, but we can only have so many people in the houses for health reasons to keep staff and clients safe,” said Darr. In April, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres wrote on Twitter, “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”

In Illinois, that means increasing the capacity of domestic violence services during COVID-19. In early April, the Illinois Department of Human Services announced that it would launch a $1.2 million initiative to expand its statewide network of support services for domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During times of crisis, there may be an increase in domestic and sexual violence, while barriers to services are compounded,” said Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Grace B. Hou in announcing the plan. “The health and safety of survivors during COVID-19 is of the utmost importance to IDHS and Gov. Pritzker, and today’s actions will ensure that access to these critical services continues.”

Governor JB Pritzker voiced his support of the initiative, saying, “While most Illinoisans are adhering to the Stay at Home order, not everyone has a safe home to go to. If you are experiencing domestic violence or live in fear of it, I know how much scarier or complicated the message of ‘Stay Home’ might sound. If that’s the case for you, please know that you can call our Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-877-863-6338 for help.”

Domestic Violence Resources During COVID-19

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used to gain or maintain power or control over another person in an intimate partnership and home isolation measures, however essential in the ongoing fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic, are giving abusers more power against their victims. The forced isolation and associated economic crisis have also devastated support networks and caused widespread financial insecurity, making it all the more difficult for domestic violence victims to get the help they need or escape their abusers. Eventually, the coronavirus quarantine will end. But as the confinement drags on, the risk of more frequent and increasingly violent domestic violence cases continues to grow nationwide. At a time when domestic abuse victims are at their most vulnerable, it is imperative that state and local governments ramp up efforts to expand access to vital domestic violence services. The following are some important COVID-19 resources for domestic violence survivors and communities.

National Health Organizations and Information About COVID-19

National Domestic Violence Organizations

Other National Organizations

National Partnership for Women and Families:
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/know-your-rights-emergency-paid-sick-days-and-paid-leave.pdf

State-Specific COVID-19 Domestic Violence Resources

Child Abuse Resources

Children/Youth COVID-19 Domestic Violence Resources

Culturally Specific

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