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March 30, 2020
Contact: Amanda Grady Sexton, (603) 548-9377
The news and ever-changing circumstances of the coronavirus crisis is distressing, especially for those who may not be safe in their own home. As families remain in isolation with increased stressors such as school closures and financial insecurity, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence expects to see the incidents of domestic violence and child abuse increase.
“We know from what we have already seen across the globe, it’s not a matter of if domestic violence will increase during this crisis, but by how much it will increase. Will we see a rise of 30% or will we see incidents completely skyrocket as they did in Wuhan during the quarantines? It’s alarming to know that so many survivors, who would ordinarily have the time and space away from their abuser to make a call and set up a safety plan, no longer have the opportunity to do that. There’s no reprieve, their every moment is being watched,” said Pamela Keilig, Public Policy Specialist of the Coalition. “The rates globally are accelerating at an enormous pace, but they reflect only the victims who can reach out or where we see police intervention. Sadly, what we are seeing across the world, is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”
Though quarantining is keeping families safer from the COVID-19 virus, it is an incredibly stressful time for even the healthiest of families. In families where the dynamics of coercion and abuse already exist the danger of violence is greatly elevated. “Many abusers have lost jobs, are increasing substance use, and are suddenly having to care for children around the clock. These experiences are never an excuse for domestic violence or sexual abuse, but it is a volatile mixture,” said Pamela Keilig.
It is well known that abusers use emotional and physical abuse to isolate and manipulate victims. The shelter-in-place order during the coronavirus crisis gives them a built-in excuse to further isolate their partners and establish control. We are seeing more and more stories each day about domestic violence that may be quarantine related.
Additionally, the continued call for the release of prisoners to protect them from coronavirus adds another layer of anxiety for victims who are worried that their abuser or perpetrator may be released early, and without warning. It is vital that the impact on crime victims be a priority as decisions are being made during these unprecedented times.
Despite the closures of so many businesses, advocates at the 13 member programs of the Coalition are still available 24/7 to help survivors get the support and resources they need to keep themselves and their children safe. Courts are still open for restraining orders and other emergencies. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, who are trained through the Coalition’s SANE Program are still ready to help survivors who may have been sexually abused. Though in-person advocacy at New Hampshire’s crisis centers, for the most part, has been temporarily reduced and may look different, the networks that exist to support and keep survivors safe are still in place.
Many people have asked what they can do to help survivors and crisis centers at this time. One of the major issues the Coalition's member programs are facing is the cancellation of all major spring fundraisers that they rely on for funding. If people can make donations at this time to their local crisis center, that support is truly needed right now.
"As this situation continues, and after the quarantine is over, there will be a lot of work for advocates to do to help the survivors and their children who have experienced or witnessed abuse,” said Pamela Keilig. “Our member programs will be ready, but they will need support from their communities.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing violence or abuse you are not alone and there is help. Advocates are available to provide support, information and create a plan for safety. Services are free and confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more visit nhcadsv.org.
CONFIDENTIAL STATEWIDE HOTLINES
24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline:
24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline:
About the Coalition:
NHCADSV is a statewide network of 13 independent member programs committed to ending sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking, through direct services to victims, community education, and public policy advocacy. The NHCADSV and its 13 member programs do not discriminate based on gender, age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental, or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status, or religious or political affiliation. For more information visit www.nhcadsv.org.