Domestic violence rises during COVID-19 - here are resources to get help
Share these resources to help abuse victims stay safe during the pandemic.
By Lorelei Yang, Countable News
According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, global COVID-19 lockdowns have led to a sharp increase in domestic violence around the world.
In an early April news briefing, Guterres said,
"For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest — in their own homes... We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners. Over the past weeks, as the economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying surge in domestic violence."
Global impact on women's safety
- Voice of America reports that domestic violence rates have surged in France and South Africa. In South Africa, there were nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of lockdown.
- The UN reports that Lebanon and Malaysia have seen a doubling in calls to domestic violence helplines, compared with April 2019.
- The UN reports that domestic violence calls in China had tripled during that country's lockdown.
- In Australia, Google reported a 75% spike in searches for help with domestic violence shortly after the country's lockdown orders took effect.
- In Turkey, the killing of women rose sharply after a stay at home order's issuance on March 11.
U.S. women at risk
Women in the U.S., like those around the world, are at increased risk of domestic violence during COVID-10 lockdowns.
In early April, NBC News reached out to 22 law enforcement agencies across the country, requesting data on domestic violence calls. 18 of the agencies reported a rise in domestic violence calls in March. Among the numbers reported:
- Houston, Texas, police received 300 more domestic violence calls in March than they had in February (about a 20% increase in call volume).
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, police received 517 more domestic violence calls in March 2020 as compared to March 2019—an 18% increase in call volume.
- Phoenix, Arizona, police received nearly 200 more domestic violence calls (a 6% increase in call volume).
Cherokee County, South Carolina, sheriff Steve Mueller notes that both women and children are affected by domestic violence:
“The financial stress [of COVID-19] alone creates a ticking time bomb for some families with a history of domestic violence. Unfortunately many of these domestic violence cases occur in front of children and often the children become victims of abuse and assault, as well.”
Decline in resources for domestic violence
The rise in domestic violence risk is compounded by shelters' and support organizations' struggles to remain open and solvent during COVID-19.
- Many shelters that occasionally turn to local hotels to house families when they've run out of space are no longer able to do so either due to cost or because hotels are closed.
- Fundraisers have been cancelled or postponed due to stay-at-home overs, putting six-figure holes in organizations' annual budgets.
Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA, which operates dozens of shelters for abuse victims nationwide, says:
"We are contending with soaring demand in services but at the same time declining resources and financial support."
Domestic violence abuse resources
Irrespective of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are resources available to help those in dangerous home situations.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) provides help via free, confidential calls in over 200 languages. It also provides help via live chat services on its website. Help can also be obtained by texting LOVEIS to 22522.
- The National Resource Center on Domestic Violencehotline (1-800-799-7233) is a resource for domestic violence victims seeking support and local services.
- The StrongHearts Native Helpline (1−844-762-848) is dedicated to providing culturally-appropriate support and advocacy for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Its hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT.
In addition to these national-level resources, local police departments and community organizations also provide aid for domestic violence victims. In a situation that has escalated to physical violence, calling 911 for emergency services may be the best course of action.
Share this article and resource list with anyone you know who may be in a dangerous home situation due to COVID-19. If you're able, check in on friends or family whose safety may be at risk in their homes.
(Image Credit: iStockphoto.com / lolostock)
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