Stay-at- home orders have been mandated around the Nation in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. With so many families being confined to their residences due to this pandemic, the potential for arguments, conflicts, and tension increases. Isolation is putting some people’s lives in serious danger of another kind: Family violence. Family violence manifests itself in violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behavior that can occur in family, domestic and/or intimate relationships.
The social isolation measures trap victims of family violence at home with their abusers for weeks on end. The resources many rely on to include extended family, child care and schools, religious groups and other community organizations are no longer available. The victim can be experiencing physical, emotional and psychological abuse not to mention assault, economic control and social isolation causing the onset of fear.
People have lost their jobs, are worried about their financial positions, children are out of school and parents have to figure out how to homeschool their children not to mention health concern stressors. There may be added responsibility of taking care of an older family member. All these stress factors can lead to explosive relationships.
Violence in the home can also lead to adverse health and mental health outcomes, including a higher risk of chronic disease, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and risky sexual and substance use behaviors. Not only is domestic violence on a higher probability scale, but elders, dependent adults and children are also vulnerable to abuse during this health crisis. Children also have increased stress levels and this can be a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children.
So, what can YOU do? If you are a family member, neighbor or community member and know or suspect someone is at risk or being abused ask how they are doing, listen to what they have to say without judgment, and let them know where they can get help. Domestic violence programs are still open and available to serve survivors. A list of local domestic and family violence agencies is provided below. There are many vulnerable people during this unprecedented crisis, let’s not forget those who have been living in isolation, in fear, and unsure of their future for a long time.
If an adult or child is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with relationship abuse or domestic violence, CORA is available as a resource, 800-300-1080. CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse) is an agency in San Mateo County dedicated to helping those affected by intimate partner abuse that provides counseling, emergency housing, and legal assistance designed to provide safety, support, and healing.
Additional local resources: