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#ISeeYou: Ensuring survivors are seen and heard during Covid-19

  • By Deborah J. Vagins
  • President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
  • Aug.10.2020
#ISeeYou: Ensuring survivors are seen and heard during Covid-19
Supporting survivors of domestic violence at this time has taken on a more urgent dimension

While the advice for the past several months has been to “stay at home,” we know that home is not a safe place for everyone. When survivors are forced to stay in the home or in close proximity to their abuser more frequently, an abuser can use any tool to exert control over their victim, including a national health crisis such as COVID-19. 

During the pandemic, many survivors have been sheltering at home with abusive partners, and the spread of COVID-19 has created housing, childcare, financial, and other barriers that will continue to impact survivors’ safety long after the pandemic has ended.

Recently, there have been reports of increased domestic violence during the lockdowns necessitated by COVID-19 across countries in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia; the UN Population Fund additionally projects at least 15 million more cases of domestic violence as a result of COVID-19. 

During these uncertain times, it’s important to remind everyone that there are always resources available for you or someone you care about.

That’s why the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is pleased to be part of the  #ISeeYou public service campaign and video to get the word out that help is available as incidents of domestic violence continue to rise. Supporting survivors of domestic violence at this time has taken on a more urgent dimension, and we honor the tireless efforts of advocates, hotlines, and programs across the country who are working every day to support survivors in need.

As stay-at-home orders begin to lift in some parts of the country and survivors may no longer be in close proximity to abusive partners, requests for shelter and assistance continue to surge. NNEDV’s WomensLaw.org Email Hotline reported that COVID-related inquiries increased more than 350% from March to April and more than 200% from March to May. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that from March 16 to May 16, there was a 9% increase in total contacts received by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, with over 6,200 total contacts citing COVID-19 as an issue.

Moreover, the pandemic, and the nation’s response to it, has further exposed the already-existing inequities in our culture in healthcare access and outcomes, employment and economic supports, and more. Data shows that women of color and Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by domestic violence. Sheltering in place is not a viable option for frontline and essential workers, many of whom are women, particularly women of color, already facing the disproportionate impacts of historical trauma, discrimination, and violence, while now facing increased exposure to the virus. Simultaneously, the historic loss of economic opportunity in this country has been especially acute for women, Black and brown communities, and workers of color, who already hold the majority of low-paid work, suffer from pay inequality, and do not have access to paid sick leave and other health benefits.  

While this pandemic has significantly increased demands in a short period of time, the resilience of survivors and our work to end domestic violence in the face of overwhelming challenges is not new. But it is also crucial to support these and other hotlines and local programs, especially now. That’s why NNEDV is honored to join the #ISeeYou social campaign.  We need to get the word out that there is help, especially now. And we need these large platforms for reach, so that as many victims, survivors - and those who love them - know about us. The #ISEEYOU campaign give us this crucial visibility to hotlines and other sources of support for survivors, including:

 

  • Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
    Call 1-800-656-4673
    Chat online at hotline.rainn.org

On behalf of NNEDV, #ISeeYou and I want you to know that NNEDV and our partner national organizations are here to help and support during the pandemic and beyond.