This Pandemic Could Be Deadlier Than We May Think
The world is in a panic, people are terrified and on edge, trying to stay safe and healthy. People are quarantined in their homes, with very limited access to bare necessities because nearly all of the stores are closed or operating on a limited schedule, restaurants are closed, bars are closed, bowling alleys are closed, courthouses are closed, even churches are closed, visiting friends and relatives at their homes is off limits per government officials and law enforcement in every state. This state of being is becoming the new norm for the world.
Although this may be the new norm for most, it is the everyday norm for many. While most of the country is perfectly fine with staying in their homes to avoid this raging monster called the Coronavirus or COVID-19, as they are calling it, there are many who are panicking, trying to find a way to get out of their homes to escape this monster called Domestic Violence.
The country is living in fear, fear of the unknown. How do I keep my family and myself safe during this pandemic? How do I know if we haven’t already been exposed to it? What will happen if we do become exposed to it? Will we die? Will we be sick and hospitalized? How will this thing impact our lives if we are the next victims? These seem like normal questions given the state of the world at the moment, right? Absolutely, these are perfectly normal questions for someone who is in fear of being exposed to the Coronavirus.
How do I know if my abuser is going to ‘snap’ while being quarantined in the house with me? What will I do if that happens? Who will I call with most of the world being shut down? Are police officers even going to be concerned with this, given the more popular concern right now is keeping the world safe and healthy? How will I escape when I can’t even go to my friends or neighbor’s homes? I am terrified. I am trapped. I can’t escape this monster that the government has ordered me to be quarantined with. While everyone is trying to avoid being plagued with the Coronavirus, I am trying to avoid the plague of Domestic Violence!
What you have just read is the reality of the state of our world right now. While most of the world is living in fear of being attacked by one monster, there are others who are living in fear of being attacked by another monster. Coronavirus versus Domestic Violence. Which one delivers a deadlier punch?
For centuries, the world has experienced different pandemics that have caused widespread panic. A flu, a virus, a chemical, a substance; there has been something to send the world into a frenzy of panic every few years, but for the first time in history, we are facing a pandemic that has nearly shut the entire world down. But for some, this is merely a different type of panic.
For victims of Domestic Violence, this pandemic has caused an entirely different type of panic. In usual circumstances, many families are hunkering down in their homes, spending more quality time together sharing meals, conversations, laughs and creating beautiful, lasting memories. While in some areas of the world, there are no sounds of laughter, no meals being shared and no beautiful memories being made. The reality is, there are some people who are living in a heightened level of fear in their own homes, trapped with the person they fear the most.
There are some people who cannot begin to imagine what it’s like being in a Domestic Violence relationship because they have been blessed and fortunate enough to not have had that horrific experience. However, for the many who live in that fear every day, their means of escape have been completely removed. There is no longer a brief period of reprieve by going to work, to the grocery store, to a friend’s house, to a shopping mall, anywhere. The roads to escape haven’t been blocked, they no longer exist. How terrifying this must be for victims of Domestic Violence!
As I am writing this article, I am reminiscing on the numerous times that I found myself in Domestic Violence relationships and I tried relentlessly to break free. The good news for me is, I had options. There was no pandemic that kept me trapped in a house with the person I was terrified of. I went to work every day, I could go to public places just so I wouldn’t have to go home, I could go to my friend’s houses and most importantly, I could go to church. My heart aches for those victims who are, now, trapped in the house with their abusers. I could only imagine what they are feeling every day. Walking on eggshells more so than they already were. Trying not to say or do something to set their abuser’s off. Trying to keep their children quiet since they are out of school indefinitely. This is no way for anyone to have to live. But the Coronavirus has caused otherwise.
As a survivor of Domestic Violence and a Social Worker who provides counseling and advocacy services to victims of Domestic Violence, I want to give a glimmer of hope to those who may be feeling trapped during this pandemic. Law Enforcement agents are still working and available 24hrs per day/7days per week. Courthouses are still open for emergency cases, such as Protective Orders, therefore, help is still available to victims. The challenge is being able to access that help while being in the same house with the abuser. My advice is to keep cell phones fully charged and on your person at all times. Try to keep the peace as best you can. If things begin to ramp up, dial 911 and place your phone in your pocket or in a place where your abuser cannot see it, but don’t hang up the phone. The dispatcher will send officers to your location. I know everyone is trying to stay safe and healthy and I want that for everyone as well; however, if you feel that your life is in immediate danger and you have a means of escape by running to a neighbor’s house or to the nearest public place to seek help, please don’t hesitate to that so.
I don’t know which is the greater of the two evils, the Coronavirus or Domestic Violence, but what I do know is, at some point, the Coronavirus pandemic may eventually end. But who is most likely to survive this pandemic? This is definitely a time during which prayer is needed for our entire world. We are all in danger of becoming infected with the Coronavirus, so we are dodging that bullet every day. However, there are those who are dodging two bullets every day, the Coronavirus and Domestic Violence. So, today, I ask you to please say an extra prayer for those who are dodging two bullets. Two bullets, both deadly monsters. Who will survive?
If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence, take the first step to stop it in its tracks. You can start by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233 (SAFE) or 1 (800) 787-3224 (TTY), or www.thehotline.org, where support services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, including weekends and holidays. In this heightened state of panic, please make 911 your first call.
Author Robin M. Sample, MSW