Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are being asked to quarantine themselves and stay at home. However, home may not be the safest place for some. Quarantine orders have unintentionally forced victim-survivors of domestic violence into increased proximity with abusers, making it harder than ever for people in these situations to leave.
Assistant Dean of Students for Victim Support Services & Bystander Initiatives Jenn Longa explained how the pandemic has led to increased instances of domestic violence and where victim-survivors can get help.
“This is an issue nationally,” Longa said. “Because people are now being forced to stay home, it’s really making it more difficult often for people to reach out for help.”
There are several factors that are now further complicating victim-survivors’ ability to reach out and escape their circumstances, according to Longa. For instance, some abusers are using the fear of infection to prevent their partners from leaving. If a victim-survivor has lost their job due to the pandemic, they are forced to make further difficult decisions. Moreover, if children are involved in a relationship, the fact that they are home from school can also impact victim-survivors’ choices about how to get out of their situation.
The pandemic has increased stress for everyone, but it is important to realize the difference between increased stress levels and an abusive partner. If your partner is making you feel afraid, is gaslighting you or is physically or sexually abusive, there are resources you can reach out to. Some shelters are still open, and if there is ever an emergency, victim-survivors can always call the police.
Longa recommends that victim-survivors call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 as a first step. Operators can put callers in touch with organizations that are local to them no matter where they are in the country. Additionally, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has an online chat on thehotline.org, or victim-survivors can text LOVEIS to 22522.
The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is a resource for victim-survivors in-state. This organization has advocates available 24/7 via call, chat and email. CCADV can also help victim-survivors obtain protective orders while courts are closed.
UConn resources are still available to students. The Dean of Students Office, the Office of Institutional Equity and the Women’s Center are all continuing to serve the student body and have resources for students experiencing domestic violence. If a student is on-campus, they can also contact UCPD.
Longa recommends that victim-survivors look at UConn’s sexual violence brochure. The brochure provides confidential and nonconfidential resources on-campus as well as confidential resources off-campus.
Longa wants students to remember that though university staff are working from home, they are still here to support them.
“Whether it’s around these issues or other issues of concern, the staff is still here for [students],” Longa said. “It’s definitely a different scenario than we ever envisioned right now, but we are still here.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter @ndvh
Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.