The societal changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic are vast and profound. One such change that requires more attention is the plight of domestic violence victims.
Those who are in abusive relationships now suddenly find themselves locked down with their partners on a near 24/7 basis. Not only does greater exposure mean more opportunity for abuse, the specific stressors of the pandemic can make domestic violence more likely to flare up. Financial losses — and the mental strain of being in quarantine — can exacerbate bad situations and place people at greater risk.
Fortunately, those who find themselves in this situation are not without help.
When Fleeing Your Abuser Becomes More Difficult
Recent news reports have illustrated the quandary that domestic violence victims find themselves in. Police and prosecutors are reporting that domestic violence calls and crimes have risen since the pandemic started.
When victims seek refuge from abuse, they are now confronted with new problems. Many family and friend networks — who would normally be relied on for support or a place to stay — cannot offer such sanctuary due to social distancing requirements. Job losses often make it difficult for victims to leave on their own.
Other recent news reports indicate that social workers and counselors are seeing significant changes in victim behavior. Calls to domestic violence hotlines are becoming shorter (or the lines go silent), as victims often lack privacy or cannot get away from their abuser.
Domestic violence advocates have also had to figure out how to file restraining orders and other court motions remotely, and secure shelter in a way that does not place people at risk of contracting COVID-19. This has proven to be a challenge, as many shelters are communal environments.
The Law Protects Domestic Violence Victims
While COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in countless ways, one thing remains constant: The law protects victims of abuse. If you have been affected by abuse, you can still seek orders of protection, motions to modify current orders, child custody motions, criminal charges against the abuser etc.