General Challenges Surrounding Being Confined with an Abuser Due to COVID-19
New Challenges for Survivors
Maintaining safety when living with an abusive partner is difficult under the best of circumstances. However, with COVID-19 causing many people to telework and practice social distancing, victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) may find themselves confined at home with their abuser for extended periods of time.
COVID-19 Abuse Tactics
The National Domestic Violence hotline has listed a number of ways that abusive partners could use COVID-19 to impact victims of IPV including:
- Withholding items ranging from hand sanitizer to medical insurance cards.
- Sharing misinformation about COVID-19 or preventing partners from seeking treatment.
- Utilizing the pandemic as an excuse for isolation.
Additional Obstacles When Leaving
Furthermore, for IPV survivors who try to leave an abusive partner during the pandemic, there are other issues including:
- Shelters being full or quarantined.
- Survivors’ fear of using shelters, hospitals, or courthouses to get help due to fear of contracting COVID-19.
- Local public transportation as well as long-distance bus, train, and plane service being interrupted due to the virus, which might affect a survivor’s ability to use their safety plan.
Tips for Safety Planning During COVID-19
- Call your local domestic violence service provider to help create an individualized safety plan specific to your circumstances and location.
- If you are not able to call your local service provider or shelter, try creating an alternative exit plan if the original one is compromised due to COVID-19. For example, if original plan was to fly to a relative and that is not currently possible, check on availability of local shelters and/or local family, friends, colleagues, etc.
- Many insurance companies allow you to print your cards online. If your abuser holds your insurance card, make a copy and keep it in your “go-bag” if you have one, and if not, in as safe a place as possible.
- Keep yourself as informed as possible about the current status of COVID-19 in your location. Information is coming quickly and changing rapidly, so keeping informed is important and will neutralize false information your abuser may try to provide.
- Remember that not as many people will be on the streets and that many places are closed, so if you have to leave quickly to seek help, know where you are going and make sure it is open. Know where your local law enforcement station is, if that is necessary.
- Police Departments are following CDC and public official guidance for safety and health. If you place a 911 call, you may be asked additional questions to assess for any symptoms of COVID-19 you might have so that law enforcement is prepared when arriving to the scene.