Across America, communities are sheltering in their homes to slow the spread of COVID-19. But for victims of domestic abuse, home can be the most dangerous place in the world right now. Quarantined in one location with their abusers, those suffering from physical, emotional, and sexual mistreatment have nowhere to go. These weeks and months are crucial times to sound the alarm in our communities and look out for victims of any gender, both adults and children.
The Need for Greater Vigilance to Address Abuse in Isolation
We can anticipate increased cases of domestic abuse based on trends from China. The BBC shared concerns of activists in China who were reporting an uptick of calls from women seeking advice. These women were witnessing assaults to their children and experiencing abuse themselves. On social media, hashtags raising awareness and condemning domestic violence began trending in response.
The Charleston, South Carolina area will be no exception. According to the Domestic Abuse Center in South Carolina, the state averages 36,000 reports of domestic violence and intimate partner violence every year. Throughout the last decade, women in South Carolina were victimized at a much higher rate, and killed by men 1.5 times the national average. Children are especially vulnerable at home with school districts and daycares closed. Young people witnessing or experiencing abuse can be left with long-lasting mental and emotional trauma.
Domestic violence cases have been known to increase during times of widespread stress. Studies noted the rise of family stress throughout the 2008 Great Recession and the heightened risk of intimate partner violence as a result. As families deal with the anxiety of COVID-19, financial troubles and job uncertainty, violent individuals may lash out physically or verbally.
Examples of Abuse During the COVID-19 Epidemic
The global health crisis is changing the way abusers manipulate their victims. Specific signs reported by the National Domestic Violence Hotline include:
- Hiding essential supplies such as hand soap, sanitizer or disinfectant products
- Sharing misinformation about the virus to scare others
- Stoping family members and children from going outdoors
- Preventing abuse survivors from getting medical attention
Seeking Help From Domestic Abuse
During these unprecedented times, opportunities for relief and support may seem scarce. Abusers aren’t going to their jobs. Victims can’t visit friends and family or reach out for support. Elsewhere, churches are unable to congregate and members can’t meet with religious leaders directly. Hospitals are limited in their ability to care for anyone outside of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
Even so, government and local groups are recognizing the need for domestic abuse resources, and are refocusing their efforts as a result. While centers against domestic violence may be unable to see individuals in person and shelter them, many organizations are doing everything they can to keep staff on their phone lines. Others are exploring options for online support and text messaging.
In light of government mandates to close non-essential businesses, those that are permitted to stay open are shifting how they provide assistance for domestic violence victims. Pharmacies in France and Spain began recommending the use of code words to report abuse. We may see supermarkets in the U.S. doing the same, or setting up centers at these locations to follow suit with other countries.
For victims of abuse, and those who’ve witnessed or suspect someone they know is facing abuse, the National Domestic Violence Hotline continues to work around the clock to connect individuals with support. You can go online to TheHotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE. Remember that if you’re experiencing an imminent risk of harm, call 911. You have the option of reporting anonymously.
Contact Lauren Taylor Law Today
While many populations are isolating, know you’re not alone. Lauren Taylor Law is here for those in the Charleston, SC area seeking legal counsel for divorce cases influenced by abuse. Call us at 843-790-9009 or contact us online.
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor is an authority on family law in Charleston and Greenville. Lauren Taylor Law is an authority on divorce, child support, and alimony in South Carolina. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for several years now. Lauren Taylor relies on her experience and passion to fight for you during this stressful time. Learn more about her experience here.