When thinking of and considering vulnerable populations, do the victims of domestic violence come to mind? They should. Do the children who are now required to stay at home because of school closing, come to mind? They should.
While some may see social distancing as an opportunity to have “me time” and get some things in order, others are faced with the daily cruel reality of being forced to stay at home with their abuser. In addition to being isolated from the experience of going to work, or their abuser going to work, victims are at increased danger within the confines of their homes.
If you hear something, say something. If you see something, say something. Make the telephone call to the police because it could save lives. After the person is a fatality is too late to take action to save him/her. The truth of the matter is, oftentimes the thought “I’m minding my own business” becomes a regret in the event of a woman, man, or child dying at the hand of an abuser. The statement then becomes “I should’ve done something. I heard them arguing all the time. I heard the woman screaming, but I didn’t do anything to help her.”
You have permission to get involved by calling the police. It could save a life. #SpeakUp because this vulnerable population is now in the environment of their abuser more hours of the day before the COVID-19 pandemic. Their new normal has become worse as a result of social distancing.
Can you imagine walking on eggshells 24-hours a day to keep the abuser calm?
Can you imagine doing everything right and still experiencing violence?
Can you imagine trying to protect yourself and your children from an abuser?
Can you imagine suddenly being kicked, slapped, punched, dragged, choked, or burned?
Can you imagine the heartbeat of a victim when face-to-face with a knife, hammer, blunt object, baseball bat, or gun?
Can you imagine what’s going through a victim’s mind knowing the children hear and/or see the abuse?
Can you imagine the shame a victim has because of the abuse?
Can you imagine finally telling someone and being shunned by others?
Can you imagine living in constant fear?
Can you imagine thinking that you don’t’ have anywhere else to go?
Can you imagine being told that your case isn’t severe enough to be addressed now because of the need to filter out the worse cases that need immediate assistance? As if your case wasn’t emergent?
Imagine and reflect on your responses to these questions. If you were a victim of abuse, how would COVID-19 and social distancing affect you? Abusers already take the stance of distancing abusers from their family and friends. With the pandemic, the distancing has escalated and so has the abuse.
In closing, I will say it again; if you see something, say something. If you hear something, say something. #SpeakUp and call the police.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please
For crisis and counseling services, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
Hotline advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.