From the desk of Tabetha Zostant, Project Manager and Business Development of Northern Rivers Family of Services
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Throughout this month and all year long, be an ally by believing supporters and spreading awareness. Domestic Violence is prevalent in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality.
Raising awareness about domestic violence is vital, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. While social distancing may prevent the spread of COVID-19, staying home may not be the safest option for many. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic devastation, disconnected many from community resources and support systems, and created widespread uncertainty. These conditions may stimulate violence in families where it didn’t exist before, and worsen situations in homes where mistreatment and violence have been a problem.
Preventive measures used to control COVID-19 may limit access to resources and connections that one used to rely on for support or provide a healthy outlet to decompress.
Here’s how COVID-19 could uniquely impact intimate partner violence survivors:
- Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
- Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
- Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
- Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted –- shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.
- Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers, or courthouses.
- Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for them to use public transportation or fly.
- An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.
If any of the above sounds like they may be happening to you or someone you love, here are a few suggestions for survivors that may make this uncertain time feel a little bit safer:
- Create a safety Plan
- Practice Self-Care
- Reach out for help
- Stay Connected with friends and families
- Get help in an emergency
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- or Chat
- Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services
- Videophone: 855-812-1001
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- StrongHearts Native Helpline
- Call: 844-762-8483
- or Chat
- New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Hotline NYS: 1 (800) 942-6906
- Hotline NYC: 1 (800) 621-4673
- Website: www.nyscadv.org
- Unity House (24/7)
- Call: 518-272-2370
- Text: 518-720-6161
- Website: https://www.unityhouseny.org/