Changes and disruption in our community from the COVID-19 pandemic has created great stress for all of us. In times of great stress and community disruption, we see people come together to help others. But, we can also see increases in depression, anger, and unfortunately, violence.
Domestic violence, sometimes called intimate partner violence (IPV), isn’t just physical abuse, and it isn’t always between couples. Domestic violence includes efforts by someone close to you to gain or maintain power or control over you. This could be by your current or former spouse, partner or even a member of the household like an adult child or grandparent. This behavior can include physical, emotional, sexual, economic, or other abuse. The abuse can take many forms, such as threats, stalking, online harassment, preventing you from talking with family, withholding money to keep you from leaving and physical injury. When children witness domestic violence, it has serious effects on their health and wellbeing, both during childhood and later in life.
The stress of social isolation, quarantine, and distancing impacts all of us, but for some it can result in anger or violent behavior. The disruption of our routine, support networks, and decreased access to services can make things worse. Unfortunately, these stressors can also increase the experience of violence in the home.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that domestic violence was common before the pandemic. National data shows about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. The risks to those experiencing IPV can be severe. Nearly 41% of female IPV survivors and 14% of male IPV survivors experience some form of physical injury. IPV can also result in death.
Based on preliminary local data, there has been an increase in domestic violence reported to our law enforcement agencies since March. This time period connects to when the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic began to seriously disrupt our lives here in Thurston County. It’s too soon to say if this will continue as we adjust to the impacts of the pandemic. But what we can say, is that this is an important time for all of us in the community to reach out to friends and family to help support each other.
It is also important to note that for some in our community, remaining at home during this pandemic may be unsafe. If you, or a loved one is in immediate danger, call or text 911 to get help.
There are more ways to get help, at no cost, for those experiencing domestic violence, including:
SafePlace offers a 24/7 helpline to anyone in need of information, safety planning, or support. You can also get connected here to a network of 24/7 resources from the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
During the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order many Thurston County services are still available to those experiencing intimate partner violence.
- The Thurston County Clerk’s office can help. Call (360) 786-5430. They are continuing to process protection orders, and have a webpage listing additional resources that may be helpful for those experiencing domestic violence.
- The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is also working to provide ongoing services in this difficult time. Their Family Support Team are accessible by phone from 8:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. Call (360) 786-5536. Victims of cases that are already filed and underway can call 360-786-5540 to speak with a victim advocate. Hours of operation may be limited but messages will be checked as often as possible.
- More resources can be found at the National Domestic Violence Hotline web site: https://www.thehotline.org/.
Everyone can benefit by connecting to supportive family and friends. Asking for help may be the most important first step to get assistance with practical needs, like food, transportation and child care, as well as help with health and safety. Those in potentially dangerous situations should also consider developing a safety plan that would include easy access to phone numbers of neighbors, friends, family, and hotlines, as well as important documents, money, a few personal things to take in case they need to leave immediately, and a plan for how to leave the home to get help. If there’s an emergency, call or text 911.
If you, or someone you care about, needs help during this time, please reach out. Sharing resources and offering support may be critical.