Most of the messaging about COVID-19 is that you’re safe if you stay home. But that’s not true for everyone, including those stuck with a domestic abuser. According to this New York Times article, domestic abuse rises when families spend more time together. And with people isolating at home, domestic abusers have new ways to terrorize.
Perpetrators commonly try to control most or all aspects of a person’s life. They also try to isolate the person from friends and family. Social distancing is now an order in most states, giving abusers even more control. There are now locally enforced means to keep the domestic abuse survivor completely isolated and unable to seek help.
Many abusers are also using COVID-19 as another terror tactic. Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, says, “Perpetrators are threatening to throw their victims out on the street so they get sick. We’ve heard of some withholding financial resources or medical assistance.”
In countries around the world, calls to domestic abuse hotlines are increasing significantly. In the first two weeks of lockdown, Spain’s emergency domestic violence number had an 18% increase in calls. In February, China’s domestic violence cases tripled. In early April, French police reported a 30% rise in domestic violence.
Organizations working to combat domestic violence may be stretched thin, or may not be receiving the same types of funding. A lot of shelters can’t take people in, fearing the spread of COVID-19.
Substance use often plays a role in domestic violence. According to the World Health Organization, American survivors believed their abusers to have been drinking alcohol before a physical assault in 55% of cases.
Survivors may also use substances to combat feelings of hopelessness and despair, especially now if they are even more isolated from the outside world. One study found that 67% of women in substance use treatment had experienced intimate partner violence.
It’s important to note that not only women are survivors of domestic abuse (and that abuse also happens in LGTBQ relationships). But 67% is a staggering number of domestic abuse survivors who are struggling with substance use.
Organizations that work specifically to combat domestic violence are especially crucial now. Those still receiving a paycheck should consider supporting them financially. Addiction and mental health treatment should also have the resources to help those stuck in violent environments who are struggling with substance use and mental health disorders. These facilities may be the only safe place survivors have.
If you are struggling with a substance use or co-occurring mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers are open and here for you during this crisis. Each of our facilities across the country are receiving third-party, hospital-grade sanitization throughout the pandemic to make them the safe space they should be. Our compassionate staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build towards long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.