Conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic can lead to more dangerous and frequent family violence and abuse. The method in place to protect the public from the COVID-19 threat is the same tactic predators and abusers often use to inflict harm: isolation.
On March 24, city and county officials enacted the Stay Home, Work Safe ordinance to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the San Antonio area, but being stuck at home with limited social interactions can increase the risk for domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault behind closed doors.
The San Antonio Police Department has reported a 21% increase in family violence calls compared to the same time period last year, January 1-April 7.
Unsafe environments can become even more caustic under stressors related to the pandemic such as job loss and food insecurity. The place that should feel safest is where the threat looms largest.
Face-to-face interactions with teachers, co-workers or family friends are often lifelines for victims of family violence but now that movement is restricted, so to are opportunities for intervention. With stay-at-home orders likely to be extended, where can victims find immediate support and assistance?
How are organizations in Bexar County working to help survivors in isolation with their abusers? What can be done to prevent violence against children and people with disabilities under shelter-at-home orders?
What can you do if you are experiencing or are in a situation that could lead to domestic violence or sexual assault during the public health crisis? What should you do if you suspect a child is being abused while confined to home?
- Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services
- Kim Abernathy, president and CEO of ChildSafe San Antonio
- Sunkyung Chung, Ph.D.,NCC, LPC-S, counselor and play therapist at the Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio
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*This interview was recorded on Monday, April 13.