A pandemic in a pandemic

After COVID-19 was declared a health crisis and a global pandemic, as a result, another silent pandemic was on the rise. As the virus has spread across the world affecting lives economically, socially, mentally, financially, physically, and academically, there are more stressors in place for domestic violence.

There are studies that show there is an increase in domestic violence and abuse after a disaster is declared. While mothers and their children are more vulnerable in a time like this, men experience domestic violence as well.

Problem I: Isolation at home

Staying home is not always a safe place to live especially for adults living in situations of domestic and family violence. Home should be a safe space where you can focus on your physical and psychological well-being. Staying at home with an abuser is dangerous because this is a place where dynamics of power can be distorted by those who abuse by violence, manipulation, coercion and controlling behaviors.

Even though the public has been encouraged to prevent the rise of COVID-19 cases by practicing social distancing and staying at home, the phrase “safer at home” does not apply to those who live in fear of violence. The forced close quarters in the face of rising rates of unemployment, financial stress, and the lack of basic necessities can trigger substance abuse and rage, which leads to an increase in violence against people and animals. 

Problem II: Technology limitations

Some women and men are without access to technology when they urgently need services during the pandemic. They might need to find help when they are being abused or need to find shelter when needing to escape. However, sometimes technology is also limited when their abuser controls their internet usage and searches. Their abuser also might have location trackers on their device to control and monitor their victim’s whereabouts. Sometimes it is not always safe to have technology on hand when seeking help.

Problem III: Unemployment

From an economic perspective, unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased in the number of people who are now out of work and are around their victims more often. Oftentimes, there will be an increase in anger, frustration, desperation, and doubt coming from the abuser that causes tension and domestic violence in the home.

Unemployment can cause and influence men and women to become more stressed and raise the chances of taking it out on their partner, spouse or child. If the chances of unemployment are high which they are in this case, the potential for a domestic violence case is more likely to occur.

“Loss of employment has a ripple effect on access to the basic necessities of safe housing, transportation, and food. Employment loss often leads to financial dependence on an abuser.  Additionally, schools are now dismissed for the summer, which leads to childcare considerations for a parent who may be facing abuse,” LSLA Crime Victim Unit Managing Attorney, Jessica Alas said.

Problem IV: Eviction

Currently, there is a massive eviction problem due to unemployment and loss of wages in the United States. If someone’s landlord tries to evict them because of their partner’s abusive behavior, they could have a defense and seek legal aid. Additionally, people who are evicted during COVID-19 and do not know their legal rights, may become more entitled to abuse and power over their partner and children.

Health risks are a domino effect for vulnerability and victimization. This is because millions of people have been forced to stay at home and isolate, lose their jobs, face eviction, and have been tied to more at-home life obligations causing an increase in domestic violence. This pandemic is happening within a pandemic.

The LSLA team focuses on advocating for justice for crime survivors as well as directing people to other available resources to ensure safety for all violence survivors.  If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse and need assistance, you can apply for free legal help by calling us at 1-800-733-8394 or visiting our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Other resources:

The Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network

Texas Law Help

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233

The Rape Crisis Center 210-349-7273

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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: Media@lonestarlegal.org