Strict stay-at-home orders implemented for safety have placed abuse victims directly in harm’s way. Safety measures recommended to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have led to a rise in domestic abuse. For many, this is not a surprise as domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together.
With families in quarantine and isolation worldwide, stress-levels are at an all-time high. The uncertainty of the future can increase anxiety for many. Coupled with unemployment and financial stress, tension among households is sure to rise. With the children at home all day, empty refrigerators, low bank funds, and forced interactions, families everywhere are facing conflict, creating the perfect storm for abusers to intimidate and inflict harm on their victims.
While conflict doesn’t always explode into violence, many living in isolation from their support network have nowhere to turn when violence erupts. As routines change and families are stuck in the confinement of their homes, reports of domestic violence are increasing nationwide.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has very stringent laws in place to protect domestic violence victims. Such laws apply to people who:
- are or were married
- are or were living together
- are related by blood or marriage
- have children together, and
- are dating or have dated.
When escape feels impossible under stay at home orders, victims should know they have a right to safety. Abusers may use COVID-19 as a way to exert control over their victims. Governments around the world have been encouraged to address domestic violence as a key part of their response to the pandemic. While many places have been closed, rest assured courts are in session for emergencies, and court orders, such as parenting plans and protective orders, are still in effect.
Victims are encouraged to create a safe plan, practice self-care, and reach out for help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline advises that “A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.” Additionally, we all have the power to be our own caregivers. This entails focusing on your own health and well-being, which can bring you comfort. Making sure basic needs are met is the foundation of self-care.
Anyone in immediate danger should call 911. For help creating your safety plan or anyone in need of support, contact the National Violence Domestic Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Any victim unable to speak can reach help at thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. You are not alone. If you wish to consult with an attorney to keep yourself and your children safe, we’re here to help.