The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has swept the nation. People are being advised to stay at home and to practice social distancing. Restaurants and bars are closing or drastically curtailing operations, schools are being closed, events are being cancelled, and people are not out taking taxis, Lyfts, or Ubers. Hours are being cut and in many cases people are being laid off. The combination of increased time at home and limited ability to go out, often in cramped quarters, stress about not being able to pay the bills, and concerns about loved ones contracting coronavirus increases the likelihood of domestic violence incidents and child abuse.
During this time of heightened risk, and decreased in-person interactions, there are still ways to get help if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
Human traffickers prey on vulnerable people and are using social media and online dating sites. The FBI ran a public service announcement reminding people to be vigilant to this threat. Human traffickers prey on vulnerable people. As Human Trafficking Search has written about in the past, there is a connection between domestic violence and human trafficking. “This connection has increased service providers’ ability to identify trafficking in a situation of domestic violence. Practitioners around the world use the Power and Control Wheel, a model designed by the Domestic Violence Intervention Project in Duluth, Minnesota to identify victims.”
For those who may be in a situation of forced sex or forced labor, also called human trafficking, or suspect someone else is, Polaris Project operates a hotline to provide information and connect victims with resources.
- The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888, text “BeFree” 233733, and chat) provides victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services and supports to get help and stay safe.
Some states are anticipating increased levels of domestic violence as a result of the coronavirus. Since it is difficult to leave the house, Ms. Ray-Jones, the chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “advises that when an argument breaks out, it’s important to identify the safest place in the house, away from objects that may be weaponized, like the kitchen and bathroom.” Futures Without Violence has developed a resource guide to help those experiencing domestic violence as well as organizations providing services to domestic abuse survivors. It is a rich set of resources that is worth exploring. If you need immediate assistance, below are a number of specialized hotlines:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 24/7, confidential and free: 1-800-799-7233 and through chat.
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 24/7, confidential and free: 656.HOPE (4673) and through chat.
- The StrongHearts Native Helpline for domestic/sexual violence is available 7am-10pm CT, confidential, and specifically for Native communities: 1−844-762-8483.
- The Trans LifeLine for peer support for trans folks 9am-3am CT: 1-877-565-8860 This hotline is staffed exclusively by trans operators and is the only crisis line with a policy against non-consensual active rescue.
- National Parent HelplineMonday -Friday 12pm-9am CT emotional support and advocacy for parents: 1-855-2736.
To help prevent child abuse during these times, Prevent Child Abuse America has put together a set of ideas and resources. The Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services has compiled information on the coronavirus and child welfare issues. Since checking in with others won’t be done in person, it is important to have regular, or video, calls with family and friends. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or suspect someone else is, call the child abuse hotline.
- The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse, offering crisis intervention, information, and referralsin over 170 languages: 1-800-422-4453.