Domestic Violence during COVID-19 Pandemic: When Home is not Safe
by Christina Hays
During this time of global pandemic our nation’s leaders urge citizens to stay at home. They suggest limiting your contact with the outside and social distancing. The Alabama Public Department of Health advise that people stay six feet from each other, wash hands frequently, limit any nonessential travel and if at all possible to stay home.
Some employers ask staff to work from home while others lay workers off to collect unemployment. President Donald Trump’s administration works on a program to send out stimulus checks to assist families that are struggling financially during this difficult time. What happens to those who are not safe at home and cannot safely access those funds when they become available?
From the outside, it looks like there is a simple answer, just leave. Unfortunately, lots of factors keep people in these abusive homes for much longer than they even wish. Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding COVID-19 exposure, even shelters start limiting the number of people they can accept. Where do people turn for help?
Now, more than ever, we urge all bystanders to start intervening. ‘If you see something, say something’ invites people to take action when they see intimate partner violence. CASA of St. Petersburg posts the following information:
“The Five D’s for witnessing Domestic Violence During Social Distancing.”
1. Distract- If you are witnessing a situation that has the potential to escalate, take an indirect approach to deescalate tensions.
2. Delegate- If you witness an incident of domestic violence in your neighborhood, delegate by calling 911. Once the incident is over, you can call your local resources for victims for more information.
3. Document- If you are witnessing an incident of domestic violence, keep a safe distance and document what is happening. You can discreetly record the incident to be given to the authorities, but never post it online. Respect the victim’s right for privacy and to share their experience if and when they want.
4. Direct- If you are witnessing domestic violence, first assess your safety and then speak up. Keep a safe distance, be firm and direct, and let the abuser know that they are being watched. If you’re not comfortable speaking up, you can make noise by whistling or setting off your car alarm.
5. Delay- Once the incident of domestic violence is over, stay with the victim until help arrives. Listen to the victim and do not pass judgement on their situation.
Please remember your personal safety at all times. Do not intervene directly if it will put you at risk. Always use caution and call law enforcement immediately. Being present with a victim after an incident can be challenging while practicing social distancing. Please continue to stay 6 feet apart, but just the agreement to stay until help arrives will put that person at ease.
For more information on ways bystanders can help stop violence please contact us by one of the following: website- www.csna.org, locally- 256.574.5826, 24/7 HELPline 256.716.1000. If you or someone you know have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault please contact us. We offer free, confidential support. No one needs to go through this alone.