As COVID-19 rages around the world, governments have been instructing the public to stay at home to stay safe. The thing is, “at home” isn’t always the safest place for everyone, at least not for domestic abuse victims.
This pandemic – and the quarantine and travel restrictions that came with it – has made it even more difficult for people in abusive relationships to find refuge in their friends and family or seek legal help from a domestic violence attorney.
If you (or someone you know) are a victim of domestic abuse, here’s how you can protect yourself (or your loved ones) against domestic violence during COVID-19.
Recognize domestic abuse.
A lot of people associate domestic abuse with physical violence, which is why many victims fail to recognize that they are in an abusive relationship until it’s too late.
While physical violence is the most obvious sign of domestic abuse, it does not always have to involve punches, kicks, wounds, and bruises. Any relationship that aims to intimidate, threaten, or gain control of the other – be it spouse, a partner, or a family member, is considered abusive.
Domestic abuse can be expressed in many ways:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Social abuse
- Financial abuse
- Spiritual abuse
Domestic abuse knows no age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. No matter who you are or what you are in life is, you can be a victim. These are telling signs of an abusive relationship that you should look out for.
- Isolation from family and friends
- Bruises, burns, or bite marks
- Having your finances controlled
- Not being allowed to leave the house or go to school/work
- Being pressured into sex
- Public humiliation
- Being belittled or told you’re worthless
If any of these are happening to you, you may be a victim of domestic abuse.
Stay prepared and develop a safety plan.
No matter how much you try to appease the situation, you cannot always avoid violence when you’re in an abusive relationship. That said, you must always have a plan in place for when things escalate into an emergency.
How can you keep yourself and your children safe? Where can you go? What’s the safest and fastest way to get out of the house? These are some of the most critical questions you need to find answers to.
Also, make sure to have essentials hidden and ready just in case you need to depart right away – an extra car key, your purse, credit card, and spare clothes. Being prepared can make all the difference.
Know that it’s not your fault.
An abuser is abusive because it’s who they are. Nothing you say or do will ever change them, so never make excuses for the perpetrators’ actions. You do not deserve to be abused, and it’s not your fault. Keep in mind that it’s never okay for someone to belittle, hurt, or threaten you. Blaming yourself for what’s happening will only lead to a vicious cycle of abuse.
Self-care is vital, now more than ever. This pandemic leaves you with almost no other choice but to stay at home with the person who’s causing you distress, so make sure to take care of your emotions and pour your time into healthy activities.
Seek help and reach out to people you trust.
In these uncertain times, it would be better if you stay with family and friends. But if that’s not possible, at least let them know what you’re going through. Also, keep someone in close proximity informed of your situation. It could be a friend living nearby or a trusted neighbor. This way, it’s easier for you to ask for help when you need it.
If you don’t have friends and family who can help you in case of emergencies, you can always call 911 or the National Domestic Violence hotline. Do not be afraid to ask for immediate help.
Though going out still poses some level of risk because of the Coronavirus, many states are beginning to ease their stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. You don’t have to be trapped at home with your abuser.
Many domestic violence safe houses around the country are ready to take you in and keep you safe. They can even help you take appropriate action and seek the legal protection you deserve.
About the Author
Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books, and playing minigolf with her friends and family in her spare time.