Reports are showing that during this time of public health concern, domestic abuse is on the rise. The pandemic is causing stress and economic pressures, which weighs heavy on a household and relationships.
In a 5-part series, Sheryl Johnson, Director of NAM’s Family Violence Center, shares information to help the community, and victims, better understand family violence in the shadow of COVID-19.
Stay at home measures may help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it also traps people with their abusers. Stay at home campaigns enforce the efforts of an abuser to isolate their partner from family and friends. The more someone is isolated from society, the more control the abuser gains over their partner.
In the first segment, we discuss abuse and pandemic isolation.
What is the drawback of enforced isolation when it comes to domestic violence?
"Enforced isolation such as self-quarantine and social distancing, simply enhances a batterers ability to further isolate their partner from those that love and care about them," explained Johnson. "In these recent times, even the President of the United States was encouraging people to stay home and away from others; what a perfect sound byte for the batterer trying to further control their family by using the excuse, 'Even the President says we need to do this.' Common sense tells us that abuse happens most often out of the sight of others… what a perfect environment for the abuse to grow and escalate."
Technology is being relied on during this time, especially for anyone working from home. Could a victim use that to reach out for help?
"In these abusive homes, the batterer may also limit the partner’s ability to communicate via social media, virtual formats such as Zoom or technological means. This level of isolation, during these stressful times, can only be more harmful for victims/survivors," said Johnson. "I heard one story of a batterer who insisted sitting at the “edge” of his partner’s office meetings via a virtual platform. Earlier he had been accusing her that her work relationships were not merely professional. He began monitoring/watching her meetings for any behaviors he found inappropriate."
Are you saying it would be safer for the victim if they didn’t work from home then?
"Not necessarily," Johnson stated. "There have also been reports of employees who are not working from home but being allowed by their partners to devote the appropriate amount of time and concentration to their assigned tasks. For the abuser, it’s all about control."
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, call NAM’s Family Violence Center 24-hour hotline for help. Call (281) 885-4673 or toll-free at (888) 750-4673.
The Family Violence Center is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence by assisting victims of domestic and sexual violence through crisis intervention, long-term support services, and through community violence and awareness prevention education.