Domestic Abuse During a Pandemic Part II
*A list of local, state, and national hotlines intended to provide you with the resources and support to combat domestic violence can be found at the bottom of this blog post.
“I woke up, I just felt numb. My whole body was just like, am I here? Am I dead?”
Stacy is one of the many victims of domestic abuse during the pandemic (KeraNews refers to Stacy only by her first name to protect her privacy). She recalls almost dying the last time her boyfriend strangled her. Her children watched her as her boyfriend squeezed her neck with his hands, dragging Stacy away as her 7-year-old daughter balled up her fists. Stacy knew that she had to make a decision that many victims have been facing since the start of the pandemic: “Flee from abuse and violence or stay home to avoid COVID-19.”
Stacy isn’t the only survivor—on average, 20 people are physically abused by their intimate partner every minute in the United States. That’s equivalent to more than 10 million people every year, yet the issue of domestic violence (which actually accounts for 15% of all violent crime) is continually swept under the rug.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates there to be 15 million additional cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
In the Greater Charlotte Area specifically, physical distancing and social isolation has led to police receiving 500 additional domestic violence calls—an 18% increase— in the month of March alone. In addition, the Charlotte Safe Alliance Shelter reports that their calls for domestic abuse have risen by 40%.
The next two weeks will be dedicated to the ongoing crisis of domestic abuse and human trafficking in the Greater Charlotte Area. The first week will introduce you to the relationship between the pandemic and domestic abuse and present the various local and nationwide hotlines for reference. The second week will emphasize human trafficking and the ways to access professional support, how you can increase your safety, and how you can spread awareness. We hope that our blogs will inform the communities in the Greater Charlotte Area, among many others, about the pressing situation that has been kept below the surface to strengthen our community currently struggling to mitigate domestic abuse and human trafficking.
How You Can Stay Safe Introduction
1. Use Hotlines. If you are in an immediate, uncompromising situation, please contact one of the free, confidential hotlines found at the bottom of this blog post.
2. Create a safety plan. Prepare ahead of time ways to escape your house in cases of danger. Read about how to create your own safety plan from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
3. Buy a Safe. Find a secure place to store copies of keys, important documents, and other essential items.
4. Browse Securely. Periodically change passwords to your email and social media accounts. Try to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Staying Safe from Previous Abusers
1. Open Accounts in Your Name Only. Abusers can leave you in uncompromising situations by controlling your bank and credit card accounts. Make sure to only open accounts in your name in order to fully cut ties with your abuser (and their control over you).
2. Spread the Word. Tell your family, friends, and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. You don’t have to tell them about the abuse—just let them know that the abuser should never be in your house. Show them a picture of the abuser, and tell them to call the police if they ever see the abuser around the neighborhood.
3. Change the Locks. Consider replacing your doors with stronger material, or even adding in a security system that alerts you whenever someone tries to enter your home. Change the locks on doors to be more sturdy, and change passwords periodically.
Ways You Can Help (Donate!)
1. Nation Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH)
About: The NDVH is a nationwide organization providing live-saving tools to free victims from domestic abuse.
2. The United Nations Trust Fund
About: The UN Trust Fund works to support thousands of women and girls globally to address violence, the HIV crisis, and to maintain their safety.
3. The Salvation Army
About: The Salvation Army is an international group working to meet human needs without discrimination while spreading the love of God.
Below is a list of free hotlines to contact if you are experiencing domestic abuse, human trafficking, and sexual assault. We would encourage you to save these numbers in your contacts and share these resources with your friends and family.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline (NDAH): Call 1-800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or visit thehotline.org.
The NDAH is a 24/7, free, and confidential hotline for survivors of domestic abuse. Highly trained and experienced advocates will offer support, resources, and the tools to help victims find safety and live lives free of abuse in more than 200 different languages either through phone or by live chat.
National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH): Call 1-888-373-7888, text HELP or INFO to 233733, or visit humantraffickinghotline.org.
The NHTH helps connect survivors of human trafficking with the necessary services and supports to help the victim get the right help and stay safe, either through phone, text, or live online chat. The hotline, which is available 24/7 in more than 200 different languages, is also open receiving tips about potential situations of human trafficking and may report such information to authorities.
Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN): Call 1-800-656-4673 (HELP), or visit online.rainn.org.
The RAINN Hotline is accessible 24/7 and can be reached by phone or by live online chat. They will confidentially connect survivors of rape, abuse, and incest with the right resources they need in their stage of recovery through their connections with over 1,000 local sexual assault service providers.
Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence (BTSADV): Call 1-855-287-1777 or visit breakthesilencedv.org
The BTSADV hotline offers a safe space for survivors and victims of domestic violence, while also providing them with the necessary resources and information to protect themselves.
North Carolina Department of Social Services: Call 980-314-3577 or visit their website at mecknc.gov/dss/Pages/Home.aspx
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy: Call 704-376-1600 or visit their website at charlottelegaladvocacy.org to learn more
Mecklenburg County Community Support Services: Call 704-336-3210 or visit their website at mecknc.gov/CommunitySupportServices/Pages/Home.aspx
Click here for more local hotlines.
Stay safe out there and know that you are not alone!