The outbreak and alarming spread of the Coronavirus is causing added stress and financial instability for many families around the world. This can cause an increase in domestic and sexual violence seen in abusive partners. The idea of social distancing is to flatten the curve of the rising number of COVID-19 positive cases and eliminate the spread of the virus. Self-quarantining at home is not safe for domestic and sexual violence victims, but leaving the house and risking exposure is not safe either.

Fear doesn’t have to only resonate with the victim. The abundance of information online surrounding the virus such as health care, economy and safety can cause fear in the abuser as well. An abusive partner might worry about easily contracting the virus or experience economic loss, minimizing their chance for survival. Fear has the potential to unleash physical, sexual and psychological violence, putting the victim and their children as risk.

Social distancing is keeping victims from leaving their dangerous partners because it eliminates the victim from communicating with friends or family that are usually emotionally or financially supportive. While technology can eliminate communication barriers by aiding the victim in seeking help or talking to advocates, technology can also be dangerous. Virtual support can be tricky and challenging. Many abusers stalk and harass victims online, so it is important for online advocates to make immediately make sure if a victim’s safety is not at further risk before proceeding.

The Coronavirus poses new challenges for all of us, but does not give us the right to violently control others. There are a variety of ways the contagious spread of the virus can trigger abuse, causing victims to fear for their lives and the lives of their children. However, advocating for this matter will encourage victims to find help or the courage to leave their abusive homes. Shelters and other organizations are doing their very best to provide for newcomers every day and want you to know they have a place for you. If you are able to safely use the internet, the following resources are here for you 24/7:  

National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233

Safe Horizon 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (English) 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Spanish) 1-888-628-9454

If you or a loved one are a victim of abuse and need assistance, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org