Getting Help With Domestic Violence
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been concerns that social isolation and increased stress caused by the pandemic could lead to an increase in domestic violence. Studies have shown that the pandemic has indeed led to an increase in reports of domestic violence and the need for help with domestic violence in some areas. For example, in the United States, the National Domestic Violence Hotline saw a more than 30% increase in contacts from survivors in April 2020 compared to the same month the previous year. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported a 25% increase in calls and online contacts in the first three weeks of the pandemic. However, it’s important to note that it’s not entirely clear how much of this increase is due to an actual increase in incidents of domestic violence, and how much is due to increased willingness to report such incidents due to heightened awareness and access to helplines.
As pandemic situation is getting better, some of the reportings has reduced but it is still something that is concerning and needs to be monitored by all. It’s important to keep in mind that Domestic Violence is not only physical but also emotional, economic and psychological abuse, and can be directed against anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, not just women. So, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of domestic violence, to support survivors of domestic violence and also to continue raising awareness about this important issue.
According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in 2022 there were 42 homicides directly related to domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it’s important to understand that it’s not your fault and that help is available. Here are some steps that you can take to begin the process of escaping from domestic violence:
Reach out for help. Contact a local domestic violence organization or hotline for information on safe shelters, legal options, and counseling services.
Plan for your safety. Create a safety plan that includes a list of emergency phone numbers, a safe place to go, and important documents and money to take with you.
Gather important documents. Make copies of important documents, such as your ID, passport, and birth certificate, and keep them in a safe place.
Tell someone you trust. Tell a friend, family member, or co-worker about your situation and ask them to help you.
Seek legal help. A restraining order or an order of protection can provide legal protection and can help you feel more secure in leaving the situation.
Use technology safely. Be aware of the potential for the abuser to track your location or monitor your phone and internet use, and take steps to keep your location and communication private.
If it’s safe to do so, leave the situation, but if it is not, keep a low profile and try to gather evidence of the abuse.
Remember that the first time is not the last time, so keep the contact of the domestic violence organization or hotlines.
It’s important to remember that leaving an abusive relationship can be very dangerous and it’s important to be careful. A domestic violence advocate can help you create a safety plan, and provide you with information about shelters, legal options and other resources. Remember that you are not alone and there is help available.