Updated: Apr 12, 2020
As we are hunkering down to shelter-in-place, some of us may not be feeling safer at home. Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, plus job insecurity, and the weight of full-time child care, many families are stretched to their limit. Couples who were already functioning at the margins are at greater risk of violence. And survivors of domestic violence and abuse may be less able to seek needed help because of the inability to leave home or even have privacy within their home. Additionally, with severely limited options available, survivors may lack the financial resources to protect themselves and their children without the input of the offender.
Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is violent, abusive or intimidating behavior in a relationship. Domestic violence manifests in a variety of ways: emotional, sexual, social, financial, spiritual and physical. Emotional abuse belittles you and chips away at your self worth and sense of independence. Sexual abuse includes rape, indecent assault and unwanted sexual behaviors used by offenders to maintain control. Social abuse can take the form of insults in front of others, forced isolation from your friends or family, and control over what you do and where you go. Financial abuse involves the offender maintaining full control of your access to money in order to limit your independence. Spiritual abuse includes restrictions to the practice of your religion and invoking shame about your beliefs. Physical abuse involves physical harm, as well as threats of physical harm or death.
Support is available. You don't have to stay where you don't feel safe. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides support in 200 languages, 24/7 by phone, as well as by online chat and via their website:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
You can also call 911 if you or someone you know is experiencing harm or threat of harm.
If like me, you live in MA, you can contact SafeLink for local resources and protection:
Additionally, if you are concerned about a friend, family member, or colleague, here are some ways to evaluate the situation and be supportive:
Domestic violence is not limited to adult, heterosexual relationships. If you are concerned about a teen or non-heteronormative relationship that is abusive, here are some resources from the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Call 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453.
Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
Visit rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a trained RAINN support specialist, any time 24/7.
Resource Centers National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) is a comprehensive source of information for on domestic violence. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) provides information, resources, and research on all aspects of sexual violence prevention and intervention. PreventConnectexternal icon is a national project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault PreventConnect’s goal is to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence by building a community of practice to develop, implement, and evaluate prevention initiatives.
Finally, domestic violence within the LGBTQ+ community has added barriers to accessing help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline previously listed in this blog is the best resource for initiating support for all communities, including LGBTQ. Additionally, the
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)'s website offers these additional tips:
"If you have questions about your legal rights as an LGBTQ victim of domestic violence, read this helpful guide from the American Bar Association. These organizations are working with the intersection of domestic violence and LGBTQ victims and survivors."