"As the U.S. fights to contain the spread of the coronavirus, vast numbers of Americans are being told to stay home. But what happens when home isn't safe?
While social distancing benefits those most at risk of becoming seriously ill, experts say it will inevitably make others more vulnerable, including victims of domestic violence.
'Because we are self-isolating, and particularly if the abusive person is self-isolating and has immediate proximity to the victim or survivor, there are various ways in which the risk element may go up,' said Ruth Glenn, president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 'There are more means by which the abuser can abuse.'
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have been victims of violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, which it defines as rape, physical violence or stalking. Nearly 9 out of 10 incidents of family violence happens in the home of the victim or the home of a friend, relative or neighbor, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The majority of spouse violence occurs in the victim’s home.
Deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus have reached 115. In 2017, more than 2,237 people died in homicides at the hands of intimate partners.
Domestic violence, experts say, is about power and control. In a pandemic, many people feel as though they're losing control and search for healthy ways to cope. But when an abuser feels powerless, it puts their victim at risk."
For information on how domestic violence can prepare for the coronavirus, see Preventing & Managing the Spread of COVID-19 Within Domestic Violence Programs.