ASHLEIGH STARNES | May 29, 2020
Whether quarantining with an abuser or faced with economic insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis, survivors of intimate partner abuse are facing remarkable challenges.
At AVLF, we’ve adapted quickly to serve survivors during this exceptionally dangerous time. Here are some of the challenges our clients face throughout this pandemic, and what you can do to help.
1. While most of us are experiencing some form of isolation, abusers weaponize it.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, abusers frequently isolate survivors from their friends and family. It’s a common way for abusers to exert control over survivors.
Now that isolation is par for the course, many survivors quarantining with their abusers find themselves at an impasse.
We want all survivors to know that if they can safely give us a call, we’re here to help.
Shelters, transitional housing, motels/hotels are full, or may be closing or restricting intake due to social distancing. The Safe Families Office Staff is still working full-time to help survivors navigate these challenges.
We know that the rate of intimate partner abuse is increasing during quarantine, and that sharing small spaces with an abuser is dangerous. We want all survivors to know that if they can safely give us a call, we’re here to help.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Spread the word that our phone lines are open, and temporary protective orders can still be filed at this time in person or by video call. More information at safefamiliesoffice.org.
2. Financial uncertainty threatens a survivor’s safety and independence.
Financial abuse is a common aspect of intimate partner abuse. The current financial crisis surrounding COVID-19, means increased barriers for those seeking to leave an abusive relationship.
Thousands of Atlantans have lost their income due to this crisis, and the unemployment rate in Georgia is now up to 11.9%.
If the abuser controls the finances, safety and security seems all the harder to reach in these times.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Become a monthly supporter through our COVID-19 fundraising efforts. When appropriate, we offer our clients emergency assistance that helps them reach the safety and stability they deserve.
3. Survivors who have escaped an abusive relationship are under extreme stress during this crisis.
As we are all isolated in our homes, our support systems are interrupted. In-person therapy and support groups are on-hold, family members are far away, and the whole process of coping with the reality of this pandemic takes a mental (and physical) toll.
Abusers may weaponize the uncertainty of this crisis to control survivors. Survivors may depend on their abusers for things like, shelter, food, childcare, etc. Furthermore, abusers who have children with the survivor may be forced to make difficult decisions about staying or leaving with their child. Abusers might also use the virus as an excuse to withhold child visitation.
We can connect survivors with resources like online therapy and support groups, and help survivors maintain their safety and independence.
Fortunately, our Safe Families Office and our Family Law Program serve as a resource to survivors in this situation. We can connect survivors with resources like online therapy and support groups, and help survivors maintain their safety and independence.
You can see a full list of our COVID-19 resources here.
If you’re a survivor, we’re here to help when you’re ready. Get started at safefamiliesoffice.org.
As AVLF’s Communications Manager, Ashleigh develops strategy, design, and content for AVLF’s digital and print communications. She’s deeply committed to sharing resources and education with her community at large – and makes it her mission to support AVLF’s programs and outreach in all they do.
Ashleigh is an Atlanta native. Before joining AVLF, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey. Ashleigh holds a Bachelor’s in English and Linguistics from the University of Georgia. She is also a performance artist, and can occasionally be seen performing movement pieces, poetry, and combinations of the two around Atlanta and beyond.