COVID-19 PANDEMIC: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHILD ABUSE – AMERICA’S SECRET SHAME

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As Americans are told to hunker down and stay home during the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, outbreak, advocacy groups and other experts echoed that home isn’t always a safe place for survivors of domestic violence and child abuse.

Since the onset of the documented exponential spread of COVID-19 coronavirus here in the United States, the calls reporting domestic violence and child abuse have gone up across the country.

There is never excuse to commit an act of domestic violence, child abuse, or abuse in any form against anyone and this is certainly no attempt to excuse anything away, but the reality is there are those that will lash out at others. No excuse necessary.

The conditions set forth by the COVID-19 crisis can create a pressure-cooker situation in some situations. Being cooped up all day, the underlying fear for our own health, fear of losing a job, or economic strain for people that have lost jobs, the chances of domestic violence and child abuse go up dramatically as a result of those things in some instances.

As the son of a survivor of domestic violence, a friend to others that have suffered physical, sexual, mental abuse at the hands of those that said they cared, and yes…as a husband and the father of two amazing daughters…I fear this is a problem that is being overlooked during this time of great societal upheaval and I felt compelled to pull back the curtain on the problem and let a little sunshine in.

The awful reality is COVID-19 could make it easier for abusers to isolate and control their victims. An abusive partner may be feeling a loss of power and control — and everybody’s feeling a loss of power and control right now — it could greatly impact how victims and survivors are being treated in their homes.

Examples of power and control in a pandemic can look like from an intimate partner or guardian:

  • Preventing you from calling the doctor/accessing medical care.
  • Withholding access to your medications.
  • Withholding access to food.
  • Forcing you to go to work despite the lockdown, or preventing you from going to work despite being required by your employer.
  • Forcing you out of your home or preventing you from leaving.

Thankfully there are organizations raising awareness about this abhorrent scourge like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Futures Without Violence, End Violence Against Children, and Mission Local.

Even though there is social distancing, if you notice crying from your neighbor or a child crying continually, you know this is the time to ask for help and to call for help. Don’t be afraid to step up and be a voice.

Helpful Resources

High-stress home environments increase the likelihood of domestic violence & abuse that children either experience or observe. Another thing to consider as children continue to spend time at home during #coronavirus they will live more of their lives online. This makes them more vulnerable to online bullying, abuse and exploitation. Don’t let #coronavirus increase violence!

If you suspect a child is being abused and you have an immediate emergency, call 911 or your local police department; otherwise, call Department of Family and Children Services Child Protective Services to report child abuse and/or neglect.

Just like in our fight to flatten the curve to help stop the spread and lessen the impacts of COVID-19 coronavirus, in our fight to end domestic abuse in all its forms, we truly are all in this together.

We may be separate, but we do not have to be alone.

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