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Domestic Violence in times of CoronavirusDomestic Violence in times of Coronavirus

SADM #90 May/Jun 2020

Kattia Castellanos, Violent Crime Intervention Specialist, Psychologist, Motivator, Writer

We are living unprecedented times. Home, a place that for us means a safe place in these times of crisis turns into a place of terror for many families that live with domestic violence and feel trapped at this moment with their abusers.

Inter family violence that occurs within family members and members of the same sex as well, feeds on isolation, control, coercion and silence. This is precisely the situation they face during this time of isolation. Key factors are access to resources and the proximity to the abuser, all the elements required at this moment to stop the propagation of Covid-19.

This situation has great social impact especially for women which statistically are the victims and it has been proven that the majority of the domestic homicides occur within the home. Inter-family violence also occur within other members of the family and people of the same sex.

Some safety recommendations:

  • If a heated discussion escalates, know that many people have acquired guns for protection during this time, make sure you know where the gun is kept and maintain yourself away from that place, as well as from the bathroom and the kitchen, the two places of more danger within the home and try to be near an exit.
  • Children that live in violence are used to live in uncertainty, explain to them that this situation is temporary and if there’s any argument between you and the abuser not to intervene and to run to the nearest exit.
  • According to their age teach them to dial 911 and rehearse what they will have to say in case of an emergency. Have the children memorize their address and practice what to do, find a place to hide or run and establish a code so they know when to run for help.
  • Have a safety plan ready. Maybe you have a family member or friend where you can stay with your children for a while.
  • If you don’t have anyone learn the domestic violence national hotline 1-800-799-7233. When you are alone call, they will provide contacts to resources in your area. You may also access the Non-emergency police department line to speak to an advocate that will help you with shelter, social services and to navigate the judicial system.
  • Let a family member or friend know about the situation and ask them to call you daily. Establish a keyword in case that they have to call the police. If the abuser gets close tell your friend that you will say they dialed a wrong number. Try to keep your telephone with you at all times, if possible, go for a walk or try to maintain yourself in a separate area in the home.
  • Prepare ahead of time in a place that the abuser cannot find, some clothing, documents and medicine for you, and your children in case you have to run. If you drive keep your gas tank full. If you don’t drive program the telephone number or the app of a transportation service like Uber or Lyft and keep some money available.
  • If the dynamic of abuse escalates in confinement especially when there are risk factors such as substance abuse and unemployment. A habitual abuser under extreme stress when unable to diffuse his anger can become very dangerous specially when children are involved. If you, your children or your pets are being physically abused and your life is in danger call 911. Police departments are still responding and aware of the situation. It is important not to lose hope and remember, domestic violence thrives in silence. No more silence, get the help you need.

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