Avoiding public spaces and working from home has helped to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but for victims of domestic violence staying home may not be safe. Abusive partners may use the current pandemic and social distancing as a form of control, further compromising their safety. To help victims of domestic violence, New York State has recently introduced a 24/7 texting program and online service. This hotline allows victims to safely interact with an operator at Domestic Violence hotline without having to make a phone call.
“We’ve seen a disturbing rise in domestic violence incidents since the outbreak of the coronavirus shut down our communities and forced many vulnerable individuals to stay home with their abusers,” Senator Anna M. Kaplan said. “New York State wants anyone in an abusive situation to know that there is help available 24/7 no matter what your situation is, and now with the ability to use texting and web-chatting, there are more ways to get help discreetly without further risking your safety. I urge anyone suffering in an abusive situation to take that first step towards a better life, and call or text the hotline to get help right away.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control approximately one in four women and one in 10 men report experiencing some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) each year. According to the Nassau County Police Department there has been a 10 percent increase in domestic violence cases so far this year compared to last year.
While shelters are still open, many are hesitant to leave their homes during this time. The Safe Center, a nonprofit organization which helps victims of domestic violence and child abuse is still allowing people to stay. The center, located in Bethpage has operators are available to speak anytime day or night.
According to New York State Senator Anna Kaplan, Nassau County residents who are looking to leave a dangerous situation, or access a shelter can contact the Safe Center’s 24/7 hotline. Operators will deploy an Uber to the survivors location and transport them to a safe place.
If a victim does not feel comfortable visiting a safe center, they may want to consider staying with friends or relatives. While the pandemic is still a concern during this time, thehotline.org reminds those who are staying elsewhere to be extra mindful of good hygiene practices such as washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and minimizing contact with surfaces that other people have had contact with.
Victims are also encouraged to practice self-care and create a safety plan, if the choose to remain in their homes. For more information about creating a safety plan, visit www.thehotline.org.
Victims of domestic violence can text 944-997-2121 or visit opdv.ny.gov for help. The Safe Center located is also available 24/7 by calling 516-542-0404.