Home is not always a safe place for everyone. During a global health crisis when public places like schools and businesses close, domestic violence victims have few places to escape to. By learning the signs of domestic violence, you can offer support to a victim who may:
- Seem scared or anxious to please their partner.
- Be overly agreeable to everything their partner says and does.
- Check in often with their partner to report on their activities.
- Frequently receive harassing phone calls from their partner.
- Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy or possessiveness.
- Worry excessively how their partner will respond to what are typically considered simple, everyday purchases.
- Show significant changes in personality, such as an extroverted person becoming withdrawn.
The social isolation and additional financial stressors of COVID-19 can create new opportunities for abusive partners to take advantage of their victims, including:
- Withholding necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants that are essential during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Sharing misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
- Withholding insurance cards, threatening to cancel insurance, or preventing survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
- Using social distancing or shelter-in-place orders to justify an escalation of their isolation tactics.
If you or anyone you know are experiencing any of these signs, The Allstate Foundation and its nonprofit partners advise to:
- Be an ally. Check in on neighbors and friends who may not have access to their regular network of allies. If you see something or suspect someone is experiencing abuse, say something. Here are a few tips to help guide the conversation:
- Let them know this is a judgment-free conversation and that they’re not alone.
- Express your concern for their safety.
- Don’t be afraid to let them know you’re worried. It’s important to help them recognize the abuse while acknowledging the difficulty of their situation.
- Avoid confrontation. If they’re not ready to talk about it, don’t force it. Recognize the right time.
- Let them make their own decisions. Any judgment about their ability to make decisions may deter them from confiding in you in the future.
- Ask how you can support them.
- Provide ways to get help like the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE) or a local domestic violence agency.
- Reach out for help. It’s important to stay connected with family and friends, even if it’s online or on the phone. There is always support available, including during this health crisis. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 800-799-7233 and through chat. You can also text LOVEIS to 22522.
- Create a safety plan that will help during this stressful time. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action, and more. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help survivors walk through a potential safety plan.
- Practice self-care. Life during this pandemic is already stressful; this additional anxiety can be overwhelming.