Domestic Violence Is Increasing During Self-Quarantine. Here’s How to Help

Many people need to stay at home to flatten the curve during COVID-19, which unfortunately means some are stuck in their apartments with their abusers. Here are some ways to help.
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor
Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

It’s hard being in close quarters with people.

This is especially the case now, during the COVID-19 shelter in place. In addition to people being on top of each other in their homes, everyone’s nerves are shot. We don’t know how long we’ll be in quarantine. A lot of people have been laid off. It’s a scary time.

And this has unfortunately led to an increase in domestic violence

According to reports, though crime rates in general have gone down recently, police reported a 10 percent to 30 percent increase in domestic violence calls during the second half of March. And some abusers are using the virus to isolate their victims. 

“We are hearing from survivors how COVID-19 is already being used by abusive partners to further control and abuse,” Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said.

António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, recently urged local governments to make helping the victims of domestic violence a key part of their COVID-19 plans

Domestic violence can occur in any sort of living arrangement, including in multifamily units. The Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) expanded housing protection, including forbidding eviction of a resident who is a victim, even if violent acts were committed on the property.

Many people might want to help the victims, especially now, when people might be trapped for an unknown amount of time with their abusers. But it’s difficult for property managers to know what’s going on inside of a unit. So what can you do?

  • First, contact your company’s legal counsel. States all have different legislation, and, in addition to helping your residents, you want to make sure you protect yourself and your company. 
  • If you hear from other residents (or if you hear yourself) that it sounds like someone is being hurt, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • Put up signs in private places around the community, for example, the women’s bathroom in the common area, that have numbers that could offer assistance, such as the number above. 
  • People are staying in their apartments more, but it’s likely that you might see renters going through the lobby or going on walks outside. Look for physical signs of abuse, such as black eyes, or emotional signs, such as someone overly deferential. (Remember, also, that while most victims of domestic violence are women, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “1 in 7 men (13.8 percent) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”)

“Domestic violence is often the hidden secret and an issue that many people feel like it is not their business,” Ray-Jones said. “However, survivors need all of us now.”

Please let us know of any other tips you have. Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur. Stay safe, everyone.