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Domestic Violence has permeated family systems and their communities for decades. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of domestic violence in the United States. Major job loss nationally, housing instability, and feelings of isolation with social distancing measures have brought added stress to these victims and their homes. The measures taken to combat one pandemic has led to the exacerbation of another.

With stay-at-home orders and other COVID-19 measures put into place, shelters and resources have had to transform the way that they support victims. Tele-health sessions have now taken the place of in-person sessions. Shelters have become over-crowded, makeshift medical centers, or had to close entirely because of funding. Mental health experts are concerned that victims are under-reporting incidences of domestic violence because of the heightened repercussions that could occur.

With these factors now in play, how can we help those that may be in domestic violence situations?

First, Know the Signs:

  • Being bullied, threatened, or controlled by a partner
  • Becoming distant with family and friends 
  • Signs of physical or sexual abuse (bruising, marks on skin)
  • Being scared of partner or making excuses for them and their behavior
  • Changes in personality

Actions to Take:

If you believe that someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, here are 5 steps to take. It is important to remember that there are many reasons that victims of domestic abuse stay in their relationships.

Empowerment is the best tool in aiding a victim of domestic abuse.

  • Be non-judgmental and listen: Showing your support for this person and the hard time they are going through will not only make them feel heard but will also show them you believe in them. 
  • Help them develop a safety plan: Use resources from the below websites to help create a plan to get them to safety.
  • Encourage them to talk to a professional: There are national and local hotlines, support groups, and tele-health opportunities that have transitioned to a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Attend meetings with them: Ask if they want your support when meeting with police, lawyers, or social workers. 
  • Remember that you cannot ‘rescue’ them: It is ultimately their decision to make. There are many reasons that people stay and it is important that they have a support system outside of the relationship, no matter what their decision is.

Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 

RAINN:

National Dating Abuse Helpline:

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence:

This article was submitted by Sarah Collins.
Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash.