Perhaps by now, you’ve already heard about the alarming spikes in domestic violence across the country. For women across the world, stay-at-home orders are a living nightmare. Many have lost their jobs and have children to feed, leaving them no other option than to return to their abuser. Trapped at home, they cannot contact domestic violence hotlines, stay outside for long periods of time, or flee to a shelter as many are completely full. While these women creep back into the shadows, the national spotlight is exclusively on COVID-19. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, and leaves our organization with a burning question: In these trying times, how can we contribute to the fight against violence towards women? The best way to combat domestic violence is to understand how other countries have done so, and spread awareness for resources.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a startling increase in reports of domestic violence across the world. Countries like France and Spain are taking action by making pharmacies safe places for victims to secretly report their abusers with a code word. Ivana Kottasová and Valentina Di Donato of CNN reported on the topic, adding that countries in Europe are also increasing police intervention in domestic violence cases (Kottasová & Donato 2). This has done wonders for ensuring that reported cases do not get swept under the rug. In this fight against violence towards women, the government must take real action in order to see change. By creating safe ways for women to report their cases at easily accessible places, as well as enforcing police intervention in cases that have already been reported, these European governments have found effective ways to address the rise in violence. As an organization, we can promote similar policy changes within the United States government as well so that women across the nation do not feel alone in their struggle to liberate themselves from their abuser, especially in such a troublesome time.
While policy changes can help reduce domestic violence permanently, awareness and availability of resources is vital to addressing existing cases. Each of our chapters can do their part in spreading knowledge of local shelters on social media. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an extremely useful resource for reporting cases of abuse. You may visit their webpage at https://www.thehotline.org/help/ if you are a victim or know someone who is a victim of domestic violence. Do not fall victim to the bystander effect- if you see something, say something. Currently, your diligence could be the only way cases can be brought to the attention of law enforcement.
No matter what obstacles we face, we are in this fight together. With our support of policy changes and various resources to aid women during this pandemic, we can shift a large part of the global focus onto our cause. Regardless of where we are, there are countless ways that we can make a difference.
Resources: Kottasová, Ivana, and Valentina Di Donato. “Women Are Using Code Words at Pharmacies to Escape Domestic Violence.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Apr. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/europe/domestic-violence-coronavirus-lockdown-intl/index.html.