Support for People Experiencing Abuse During the Pandemic
Violence is a serious public health problem. It affects people in all stages of life, from infants to the elderly. Many people who experience violence survive it but suffer from long-term physical, mental, and emotional health problems.
Some of the public health actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include avoiding large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces, working remotely, and closing schools. While these measures are critical for slowing the spread of COVID-19, they may contribute to an increase in violence and suicide due to:
- Social isolation or lack of social support
- Financial, emotional, or physical stress
- Lack of time alone or lack of physical and mental space
- Lack of childcare
- Loss of job or income
- Depression or anxiety
- Substance misuse
- Reduced access to mental health or substance use services and supports
In addition, social distancing measures can lead to more time in the home or in the same space as an abuser, increasing the risk for abuse. This can include child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse. Victims of violence may be unable to access help due to limited outside social contact, or they may not be able to seek victim services or shelter. The COVID-19 pandemic may also impact those experiencing violence in the following ways:
- Abusers may further isolate and control victims of violence.
- Abusers may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten victims or prevent them from seeking medical treatment, if they need it.
- Programs that serve victims, such as shelters and counseling centers, may be full or unable to assist them. Victims may fear entering shelters for fear of being exposed to COVID-19.
- Travel restrictions may impact a victim’s escape or safety plan.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing violence, here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Create a safety plan to outline ways to remain safe while you are in your current situation, planning to leave, or after you leave.
- Practice self-care as much as possible.
- If it is safe, reach out for help and try to maintain social connections through phone calls, texts, emails, and social media platforms.
Take care of your mental health
You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
Get immediate help in a crisis
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helplineexternal icon: call or text 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish).
- National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chatexternal icon.
- National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chatexternal icon
- The Eldercare Locatorexternal icon: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructionsexternal icon
- Veteran’s Crisis Lineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chatexternal icon or text: 8388255
Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health
- SAMHSA’s National Helplineexternal icon: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
- Treatment Services Locator Websiteexternal icon
- Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centersexternal icon