October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year, like so many other things, it has taken on an additional meaning. At the same time as we were told that staying home was best for our own safety, victims of abuse have been in an environment of forced time and isolation with their abusers. Additional stressors such as job loss, financial hardship, children learning from home, and inability to see family and friends, have added to the already increased risks. Victims often lacked the privacy they needed to make a phone call for help.
Even as the world begins to “open up”, many of the stressors and risks remain, and the possibility of second wave looms, it will take a community effort to make sure that no victim of domestic violence is without help and support. Check in on your family, friends and neighbors; call, text, or video call – especially if you have any suspicion that someone may be in an abusive situation. If you sense that something might be wrong, voice your concern and let them know that you are there for them. If they tell you that they are in an abusive situation, believe them, and help them get help.
Perhaps most importantly, know that help is available. The Domestic Violence Helpline is open 24/7; agencies and clinics that are not open in person are still offering services via telehealth; and even when courts are closed or backed up, restraining orders can still be obtained through police departments.