ATLANTA - Advocates against domestic violence say isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak can increase the risk of violence in households.
Rosa De-Kelly, a legal advocate for domestic violence and human trafficking says there are two main triggers for violence during the outbreak: stress and isolation.
"Avoiding public spaces and working remotely can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but for many survivors, staying home may not be the safest option," the National Domestic Violence hotline explains on its website.
A survivor's chance of safely accessing help will likely be limited because they'll be home with their abusers.
De-Kelly says 911 is always an option, even during this pandemic. She says a survivor's best bet is to get out now.
The hotline lists common abusive situations during this pandemic including:
-Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
-Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
-Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
Other ways the hotline says victims of domestic violence could be impacted:
- Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted –- shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.
- Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers, or courthouses.
- Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for them to use public transportation or to fly.
- An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.
De-Kelly also says women are not the only victims of domestic violence. Men and children experience it as well.
She says isolation not only increases the risk of domestic abuse, but also online bullying.
School districts across the country have shut down to lessen the spread of the coronavirus, and opted for online classes instead.
All that extra time at home can cause young people to spend much of their free time on devices.
De-Kelly says parents of teens should pay close attention to the way their child behaves before and after spending time online.
If you are in need of help, call 1.800.334.2836.