The stay-at-home order is meant to help decrease the number of cases of the virus spreading.
However, the number of COVID-19 cases isn’t the only thing that’s increasing. Police have had a spike of domestic violence calls as of last month. With states issuing stay-at-home orders, it causes those reports to increase at alarming rates.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has had an increase of callers counting from 951 between March 10 and 24, which typically receives up to 2,000 calls per day. These calls would mention COVID-19 while reporting their abuse.
This type of activity is not uncommon. There have been numerous studies including one from the Australian Journal of Emergency Management, which mentions that abuse between intimate partners would increase during times of crisis.
The combination of families losing jobs, paranoia, financial distress, and being around the same person 24/7 can raise violent behaviors. Confined in a space, unable to leave in a place which should be considered home for families, eventually turn into a prison for women dealing with emotional and physical abuse.
In some cases, it would become so severe to the point where there have been cases where women would use code words to escape their abusers.
Domestic violence is already a deadly epidemic within itself, and now Coronavirous adds to the potential threat of women suffering from abuse. On average, the World Health Organization reported that one in three women around the world experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.
The self-quarantine puts the victims in close proximity with their partner. Leaving the house and coming forward to report abuse makes it difficult due to the risk of possibly catching the virus.
Public places such as work environments, give a potential sheltering environment to protect themselves from their controlling partners. Now, with public facilities closing down, finding shelters and reporting abuse makes it even more of a difficult task when some states require everyone to stay inside their homes.
In North Carolina, emergency calls to domestic violence shelters have remained relatively flat as the Coronavirus continues its spread. Activists claim that domestic violence cases usually skyrocket during times of crisis such as this one. The mixture of staying home with an abuser is a combination for disaster.
While there are shelters still available for women to come and stay away from their abusers, there are a few problems. The Women’s Center located in Raleigh stated in their COVID-19 response, “On March 26, we made the hard decision to limit access to the community at large, to accommodate necessary safety protocols regarding COVID-19.”
Even though physically being at shelters isn’t possible, for now, there are organizations that are willing to provide help face-to-face or by phone calls, but cannot fully provide services.
This isn’t just happening in the US alone. Women all around the world from Spain, Italy, China, France and other countries are also suffering from this epidemic.
Secretary General António Guterres of the United Nations, recently released a tweet calling for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in domestic violence.
It’s important to follow the instructions of staying inside to prevent the virus from increasing, but for certain families, home isn’t a safe place to be at this moment.
While shelters are still available but limited, it’s important to stay informed and help in any way to spread awareness of this growing epidemic. These increased levels of domestic abuse can eventually lead into something more serious that could be fatal to the victims.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, call the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or visit there website https://www.thehotline.org