As society shuts its doors on all but the most essential of services—these limits made in the name of safety could have the unintended effect of endangering a population for whom outside is often safer than in: victims of domestic violence.
“Social distancing and self-isolation is a huge, huge safety issue for victims of domestic violence. It causes grave concern for those of us providing services,” Carol Gall, executive director of Sarah’s Inn told NBC5.
Gall is worried and taking measures to protect the people who work with her at the Forest Park-based domestic violence prevention agency. But she is also worried for the victims who have not yet raised their hands for help, who may have a harder time getting that aid because of increased social distancing and isolation.
“We know the abusers are going to use this crisis as a way to not only isolate but also provide misinformation,” Gall said. “We know that abusers have told their victims if they leave the house, they won’t let them back in and then they’re going to get coronavirus.”
In a given month, Sarah’s Inn provides services for 375 victims of domestic violence, along with their children. Staff members worry about any decrease in private calls for help, but also grimace at headlines like the one from Texas this weekend, which read ‘Domestic Violence Calls Increase as People Shelter in Place During COVID-19 Outbreak.’
“We want them to know we are here. Continue to reach out to people who you’re concerned about, Gall said. “Text them, offer support, see if you can break that cycle of silence and isolation a but for them.”
There is no mystery as to why that is needed: victims are already in compromised positions. Limiting their mobility, even in the name of health, won’t necessarily be healthy for them.
Sarah’s Inn and its sister agencies statewide are now putting out the word every which way they can: to spread the word that their hotline is open, trained staffers will answer and will find a way to make sure victims who need to walk through can open door can do so.
In terms of court hearings, while county court functions are currently decreased, emergency orders of protection are still being heard.
We have all the numbers for Sarah’s Inn and domestic violence prevention agencies below. If you know anyone who you’re concerned might need this information, find a way to get it to them.
Sarah’s Inn: https://sarahsinn.org/
State of Illinois: https://www.ilcadv.org
Chicago-Metro area: https://the-network.org/
Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline 877-863-6338