Due to the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, many governors– including Governor Northam of Virginia– have issued stay-at-home orders encouraging all to stay inside as much as possible, in order to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. During that period, domestic violence increased notoriously.
One of the few positive side effects of stay-at-home orders–
Besides cleaner air and the reduction of traffic–
Has been that the well-documented phenomenon of decreasing crime rates
Has now gone even further down,
due to many people obeying the orders to stay home.
Unfortunately, the one exception to that trend is domestic violence.
This particular category of crime
Is often worsened by keeping the vulnerable at home
With the ones who are hurting them.
Comparison with 2019
In Elgin, Illinois, domestic battery calls are up 47%,
Compared with the same March 21-30 time frame in 2019.
In King County, Seattle, domestic violence calls to the King County sheriff
Have risen an estimated 8%.
And here in Virginia, the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office has said
That domestic violence calls have risen 58%.
The domestic violence statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
1 in 5 women and 1 in 12 men in the United States
Have experienced violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
To be sure, contracting COVID-19 is a serious matter,
And everyone should be taking every precaution to avoid it.
Even so, that does not mean that if you find yourself being harmed,
you should stay home.
Your personal safety and health should always be of paramount importance.
Domestic assault during Covid-19
Here in Virginia, domestic assault is considered a class 1 misdemeanor,
And police officers in Virginia are still responding to such placed calls.
Furthermore, petitions for protective orders
(sometimes termed “restraining orders”)
Are one of the emergency functions that some jurisdictions,
Such as Fairfax County, are still hearing.
However, sometimes those harmed are not seeking criminal prosecution,
So much as just imminent refuge
And safety for themselves and their family.
How to help people in domestic violence situations
If you or a loved one needs help for a domestic abuse situation,
Please consider using these resources to seek help and shelter:
- National Domestic Violence’s Hotline | (800) 799-7233
This hotline allows you to speak confidentially with trained advocates online or by the phone, which they recommend for those who think their online activity is being monitored by their abuser. They can help survivors develop a plan to achieve safety for themselves and their children.
- Safe Horizon’s Hotline | (800) 621-HOPE (4673)
This hotline offers crisis counseling, safety planning, and assistance finding shelters. It also has a chat feature where you can reach out for help from a computer or phone confidentially.
- Crisis Textline | Text HOME to 741741
Provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis.
- A local women’s shelter or crisis center. Shelters and crisis centers typically provide 24-hour
emergency shelter, as well as advice on legal matters and advocacy and support services.
- Intimate Partner Violence.
Remember that no one deserves to be harmed,
And that your personal safety and well-being matters,
And that if you ask for help, you will receive it.