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Expert Advice

How to be there for someone experiencing domestic violence during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in profound and unprecedented ways. Most if not all of us are worried about someone we love—whether it’s a relative, a friend, or our community as a whole.

In the face of this crisis, it’s important to remember that even the smallest acts of care can make a difference. We’ve compiled the tips and resources below to help you find simple, concrete ways to take action.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a financial crisis for millions of families. Many people have lost jobs and health insurance, and those who were already without adequate food, housing, or health care are now at even higher risk. Low-income children are especially vulnerable, since school closures have disrupted free lunch programs and other services.

Domestic violence sadly increases during emergencies of all kinds, but it’s a particular risk when movement and interactions outside the home are limited by local shelter-in-place orders or personal health concerns. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many people have begun suffering physical and emotional abuse for the first time. Others are seeing ongoing abuse escalate in ways that specifically target their vulnerability in the current crisis (for example, an abusive partner cutting off access to accurate news about the pandemic, or withholding essential supplies like soap and hand sanitizer).

If you know or suspect that someone you care about is being abused by a member of their household, reach out and stay connected in any way you can. Be nonjudgmental and empower them to do whatever they need to do to stay safe. Support them in small ways, such as ordering food and essential supplies and texting or calling frequently, and establish channels and signals that they can use to contact you if the abuse escalates. You can also encourage them to contact a domestic violence hotline, or do so on their behalf—these hotlines are still operating 24/7, with trained counselors and advocates available via chat, text, email, and phone.

Here are some additional resources to help you support someone who is experiencing domestic violence: