Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic

OCTBlog-V2

Stay at home.

These are words of comfort to some people. But for victims of domestic violence, the words “stay at home” can be terrifying. In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, many domestic violence victims have been stuck at home with their abusers, in many cases relying on their abusers for financial support and childcare.

Even as some “stay at home” orders are lifted, many school districts remain closed, activities are canceled, people are still isolated and dealing with the economic aftershocks—all factors are adding to the overwhelming stress and volatility of already abusive relationships. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the rate of murder-suicide, in which a male partner kills a female and then himself, has risen since the same time last year. In Orange County, family dispute and child custody dispute calls have increased to 24% and 30% respectively and relationship violence calls have increased 25% across the county when compared with the same period last year, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. This startling information hints at the work that still must be done when it comes to domestic and family violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a time to remember that everyone has the right to be safe from threats and acts of violence. As abusive partners feel more justified to escalate their isolation tactics, COVID-19 has made it harder for victims to report domestic violence. Plus, not all victims feel safe involving law enforcement, so helping them have access to safer options is more important than ever.

One of the ways Waymakers is getting the word out is through the #BetterWay campaign—an effort to end family violence across California by promoting healthy relationships between family members and partners. The focus is to increase protective factors among youth and young adults to encourage healthy relationships and positive communication strategies to prevent family violence and encourage others to speak up and break the stigma behind family violence. The campaign is aimed at fostering meaningful impact and discourse among families, youth and intimate partner relationships with a focus on education and prevention to help put an end to family violence and reduce the impact of violence on young people.

Waymakers also provides specialized services and victim advocacy in the following areas—available during COVID-19:

·       Crisis intervention

·       Resource / referral assistance

·       Emergency financial assistance

·       Orientation of the criminal justice system

·       Assistance with restitution and/or applying for California Victim Compensation claims

·       Court support and case updates

·       Assistance with victim impact statements

If you need support, guidance and assistance due to abuse, violent crime or sexual assault, if you are a young person in need of support and direction, or if you are in the middle of a family crisis or conflict—don’t face it alone. The Waymakers’ Domestic Violence Assistance Program can assist you in getting a restraining order or help with other services. For questions, reach us via email, dvap@waymakersoc.org or by phone, at (657) 221-5416. Contact us today.

 

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