Are you or someone you know being harmed at home? Or perhaps you are close to the abuser? Domestic Violence (DV) experts expect to see increased rates of DV while isolating at home. 

DV includes stalking, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Women and men are victims, although to date, the majority of victims are female and the majority of abusers are male. 

Some indicators of DV include:

• You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family. 

• You find yourself hiding and withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses. 

• You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself. 

• You start lying to avoid your partner’s put downs and reality twists. 

• You have trouble making simple decisions. 

• You have lost control over your own finances.

• You have the sense that you used to be a very different person — more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed. 

• You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.

• You feel hopeless and joyless. 

• You feel as though you can’t do anything right.

COVID-19 impacts DV victims:

• An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.

• Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.

• Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.

• Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.

• Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted — shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering a shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.

• Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers or courthouses.

• Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan. It may not be safe for them to use public transportation or to fly.

Getting help

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has been directly supporting victims for decades through its hotline. The hotline is never closed. Call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) and 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). 

See below links for hotlines for specific communities e.g., Transgender people, individuals who are hearing-impaired and Native Americans. During a hotline call, the victim gets help creating a realistic personal safety plan — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else can participate in this planning.

  Also, there is help for the abuser. The Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) in Duluth (see link below) intervenes directly with abusers but also trains others to do so. There is an online training coming up in May.

Responsible communities keep each other safe — victim and abuser.

Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider. Some info above taken from:

Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in psychology.