Domestic violence + social isolation = Mind-numbing combination
Helping abused friends seek help during COVID-19 outbreak
She told me she was getting a divorce, and I stared blankly at her. She was in one of the happiest married couples I’d known of growing up. She and her husband were responsible for my parents meeting each other. But when she told me about the drug use from her husband and him giving her two black eyes, my brain just couldn’t imagine this. It’s one thing for one of your girlfriends to tell you about a no-good boyfriend. It’s another to hear this is happening between two people you know and love equally. I never looked at him the same again, and I’ve been dodging talking or seeing him in person ever since. It’s been more than a decade.
In high school, I remember a similar situation between two peers I was friendly with — one who I took an economics class with and the other who I snuck off with to avoid playing team sports in physical education classes. I was friendly with both of them, until one day she showed up to school with a black eye. One time it was from her boyfriend and another time from her mother’s boyfriend. And I had no idea what to say to her because she was in a lose-lose situation at home and school. I iced out her boyfriend almost immediately and told her if she ever needed someone to help her escape, I was down. Soon after, they broke up.
Don’t just talk or text on the phone. Visually try to see this person on Zoom, UberConference, Skype, JoinMe, Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting.
In both cases, these two women (black) chose to separate themselves from the men without going to law enforcement. And I see this happen quite often with women — especially black women, who are three times more likely to be the victims of domestic violence — who have convinced themselves that going to law enforcement will make a bad situation even worse. When a third friend found her ex-boyfriend standing outside of her front yard waving a knife around and pointing it at her, she did call law enforcement. The police told her that he had every right to stand on public property, just as long as the knife touched no one. (Interestingly, that declaration didn’t work out for the likes of the Laquan McDonalds of the world, but I digress.)
I thought about all three of these stories recently after WGN News reported that Chicago partnered with Lyft and Uber to offer free rides to people who have contacted the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline in need of safe transportation. All three women that I knew have long left these men mentioned above and moved on with their lives, but I would be an absolute wreck worrying about them being secluded in the home of their abusers during social isolation.
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year. (Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline)
During a time of high stress and an outbreak that has left 427,460 Americans infected and 14,696 dead from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — and 1,439,516 infected and 85,711 dead worldwide —it is imperative that people stay indoors to avoid spreading the virus in higher numbers. The bad news is that there will be a certain population of people who will feel safer outside than they do inside their own homes. If you know someone who fits into the latter category, contact them often. Don’t just talk or text on the phone. Visually try to see this person on Zoom, UberConference, Skype, JoinMe, Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting.
If you see anything that seems “off” — whether they want to deny the information or not — pass rescue information along to them by any means necessary to get this victim out of that house. If you can’t physically get them out yourself, reach out to ride-sharing services for shelter options or the National Domestic Violence Hotline to have the conversation that (s)he cannot. The whole goal of social isolation is to save lives, not endanger them from those inside.
Would you like to receive Shamontiel’s Weekly Newsletter via MailChimp? Sign up today!