It has been more than a month since Los Angeles and other cities all around the world began Safer at Home Orders due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). But sometimes being at home isn’t the safest.
With schools being closed, and everyone being at home 24/7—sometimes in tight spaces—tension and stress has led to a surge in domestic violence cases, which includes sexual and physical violence, stalking, as well as psychological harm.
From 2019 to 2020, calls regarding domestic violence to public services in LA County have risen from 863 to 933, an 8.11-percent increase, the LA County Sheriff’s Department reported. Amid the shelter-at-home advisory, sheriff services and other resources are still available 24/7 and the department encourages victims of domestic violence to reach out for help.
According to collected data by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in five women and one in seven men reported to have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner.
There is a high risk of injury and death linked to domestic violence. An estimated 41 percent of female survivors and roughly 14 percent of male survivors of domestic violence experienced physical injury and 1 in 6 didn’t survive their ordeal.
“During this crisis, we’re all working to do our part to help flatten the curve to keep our communities safe,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a recent press release. “That means staying at home and listening to guidance provided by state and local public health officials. Unfortunately, home isn’t always a safe place. That’s why it’s crucial that we all have the tools necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones. There’s never an excuse for violence against an intimate partner. My office is grateful to all those who continue to work to support survivors of abuse during these trying times. We may be physically apart, but nobody is alone.”
Eighteen law enforcement departments nationwide reported a rise in domestic violence in the month of March, according to NBC News.
Many families are under a lot of financial stress due to being laid off; unemployment process delays; high debt; and anxiety about what the future will bring. Some couples are working from home and may feel overwhelmed trying to juggle work, managing the household and homeschooling.
Domestic violence can even appear in families without any prior history of violent behavior.
“We know social isolation can really have devastating impacts on the safety, health, and wellbeing of victims,” Dr. Amanda Stylianou, domestic violence expert at Rutgers University, told NBC News. “Being able to wake up in the morning to leave their home to go to safe schools, workplaces, to visit family and neighbors is really critical and is a really important protective factor for them in a time where that protective factor is gone.”
Although shelters for women and children remain open and provide a 24/7 service, many shelters are housing close to their allowed capacity. This forces them to turn to hotels or motels in their area if they run out of space, a costly solution in the long run. Due to COVID-19 and the shelter-at-home order, many nonprofit shelters had to postpone or even cancel fundraisers, which resulted in major gaps in their annual budgets.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline states that 1,765 callers disclosed that their partners took advantage of the COVID-19 situation to “further isolate, coerce, or increase fear in the relationship,” according to Hotline CEO Katie Ray-Jones, who worries the number might be higher.
“We are especially concerned that survivors will be unable to reach out for help due to their abusive partners monitoring their behavior while they are in isolation,” Ray-Jones told NBC News in an interview.
Becerra shared domestic violence resources:
According to California Law, domestic violence- and gun violence restraining orders are offered, if individuals feel endangered. These orders generally prohibit people who pose an imminent, significant danger to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition. Individuals can acquire a protective order to protect themselves and their family by calling a local law enforcement agency, or by submitting forms to the local courthouse.
County courts may also have additional information regarding procedures in a specific area during the nationwide stay-at-home advisory. The California Judicial Council issued temporary emergency rules on April 6, including an extension of the time frames for specified temporary restraining orders.
A Domestic Violence Restraining Order is an emergency protective order that can be requested by a law enforcement officer at any time of day or night. Emergency protective orders generally last for up to seven days to allow for the next step in the process. Under current guidance, emergency protective orders issued during the COVID-19 statewide emergency last for up to 30 days. The subject of the restraining order can be required to leave the home and stay away from the victim if requested in the order. During the period that the emergency order is effective, applicants may apply for a longer-term restraining order. Judges may issue temporary restraining orders that last up to 90 days during the COVID-19 statewide emergency. Judges may also issue permanent orders that last up to five years. Victims can also begin the process by submitting forms to a court.
An emergency gun violence restraining order can be requested by a law enforcement officer and generally lasts for up to 21 days. During the COVID-19 statewide emergency, all gun violence orders issued or set to expire will be extended up to 90 days to allow the matter to be heard by the court. The subject of the restraining order is prohibited from possessing or buying a gun or ammunition and must give up any guns or ammunition they possess. During the period that an emergency order is effective, victims or a law enforcement officer may request a hearing for a longer-term order. A judge may issue a gun violence restraining order that lasts up to a year. Victims can also begin the process by submitting forms to a court.
Support and Services Information
Legal aid clinics
National Domestic Violence Hotline
(online chat available)
1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE) |
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN)
https://rainn.org/ (online chat available)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(online chat available)
1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) |
The Victims of Crime Resource Center
https://1800victims.org/ (online chat available)
1-800-842-8467 (1-800-VICTIMS) (call or text)