For many people who suffer at the hands of their abuser, home is not a safe place. Home is a dangerous place where they have to be careful what they say, what they do, what body language they send off, or how their tone of voice sounds.
The majority of people are using this quarantine period to reconnect with their families, where the day-to-day businesses of running errands, working full-time, getting kids to their activities, and trying to keep up with the Jones’s have pushed “family-time” to the back burner.
For those children, women, and men who are targets of their spouse’s, significant others, or parent’s (or parent’s significant other’s) anger and aggression, home is probably the last place they really want to be. Because it’s not safe for them.
Children Being Abused During Quarantine
When we think of parents, we think of people who love their children unconditionally; who would do anything and everything to keep them safe. However, there are monsters out there who care more about control, who use abuse as a way to force a child into surrendering to their authority or who, even more sickly, get enjoyment over the degrading ways they force the child to behave and live.
Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the United States annually, and about four out of five abusers are the child’s parents.1
When I think back to my school-aged days, I remember a snow day being the greatest thing in the world! A day off of school with no teachers, no books, and no sickness to keep me in bed! Many children right now think the same thing about the no-school pandemic that has taken place to try to fight the spread of Covid-19. But for many children, school is a place where they can get away from a horrible home situation.
But not right now, and they often have nowhere to turn to.
Spouses Being Abused During Quarantine
Although the cycle of abuse is often talked about, many people still find it hard to understand why someone would remain with a person who is physically abusive or. But it happens all the time.
Why? There are many different reasons someone would stay with another person who is causing them to suffer. If they have children together, they may be afraid to leave and risk having to leave the children with the abusive parent. Even if they do not have children together, the abused partner may be afraid to leave because they are not in a good financial position and do not know how they will support themselves. There may also be a fear of what other people will think if the abused partner leaves – many times an abusive partner is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type where others see that person as wonderful but do not know them behind closed doors. Those are just some reasons.
COVID-19 and Domestic Violence
It’s hard enough to leave when there is not a pandemic. Add in the requirement that people stay at home as much as they possibly can coupled with the fear of getting sick on top of an abusive household member – life right now could be living hell.
Some people are very afraid to call the police because, if the police do not believe them (which is likely what the abuser is telling them), then they must live through the wrath and punishment that follows. People are afraid to go to the hospital for fear of rejection and not being able to be helped, for fear of taking help away from someone who is sick with Covid-19, or fear of putting themselves at risk for getting sick by being around people who might be positive.
Being Quarantined Does Not Mean You Should Live With the Abuse
If you are reading this and you are in an abusive situation, know that there is help out there for you. You can get an emergency restraining order through the police department if your local court is not open. This would provide you with some protection as the person abusing you would be forced to leave the home and not contact you. This can be a very scary step as many people see restraining orders as just a piece of paper that their abuser may not take seriously and may come back to hurt them worse than normal. That is a true and valid fear for many people.
When it comes to children and the elderly – the groups of people who cannot always speak up for themselves, please be on the lookout for the people in your community who might really need your voice during this time. If you see signs of abuse, please call your local police department.
The quarantine time has given many families the time together they’ve been wanting for a long time; however, it has put others in significant danger with nowhere else to turn.
Keep those people in your thoughts.
If you are suffering from abuse from someone in your family, please call 911 or your local police department if you are in immediate danger. Otherwise, please note the following 24/7 Crisis Hotline numbers:
- SafeLink: (877) 785-2020
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-4673
- DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended): (617)471-1234