While avoiding public spaces and working remotely can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19,
staying home is not a safe option for survivors of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is abusive behavior occurring within a family or a couple to gain power and control over a spouse, partner or family member.
Any external factor that adds stress and financial strain can lead to an increase in domestic violence. Not surprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic led to a 30% increase in domestic violence cases in New York during April alone.
Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical, emotional, economic or sexual abuse and stalking behavior. Abusers usually keep survivors isolated from any source of support, including family and friends.
During the pandemic, abusers may withhold necessary items such as masks, hand sanitizer and insurance cards and prevent survivors from seeking medical attention.
If you or someone you know is confronting domestic violence, the first step is to create a safety plan — a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while you stay in a relationship, plan to leave or after you leave. Do not do this alone. It is important to have someone you trust be a part of your safety plan.
Hotlines and resources
Safe Horizon: 800-621-HOPE (4673) is a 24-hour hotline for immediate safety planning, shelter assistance and other resources.
311: Ask to be connected to a New York City Family Justice Center for organizations providing case management, economic empowerment, counseling and legal assistance.
911: Call in an emergency or go to your nearest police precinct and speak to someone in the NYPD’s Domestic Violence Unit.
If you can, leave and stay with family, friends or in a hotel/motel.
If you are frightened that your abuser will show up at your job, alert someone who can help keep you safe, such as your boss and security.
Stay in a positive mindset and practice self-care: Visit www.uft.org/self-care for additional self-care resources.
Remember, you are not alone.
The UFT Member Assistance Program offers short-term counseling and outside referrals to help you deal with a wide range of issues.