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Escaping Domestic Violence Under a Stay-at-Home Order

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The past two months have been chaotic, perhaps more so than any other time current generations have experienced. The uncertainty, mixed with a financial downturn and nationwide stay-at-home orders, has led to a perilous surge in domestic violence. Shelters and helplines have been answering more calls than typical. And, some support workers warn, the problem may go beyond what they can see. Some victims, under the constant eye of an abusive partner, are likely not able to reach out for help at all.

If you or a loved one is in this situation, we want you to know, first of all, you are not alone. Those of us who have worked with others in a similar position believe your story and are here to help. Please reach out if you are struggling with domestic abuse.

Do You Think You Are Facing Abuse?

Intimate violence can take many forms and can be a one-time occurrence or an ongoing trend. Nearly 25% of women and 10% of men report experiencing some type of violence from a spouse or other romantic partner at some time. Abuse can consist of one or more of the following:

  • Physical violence, including unsuccessful attempts to cause harm and credible threats
  • Sexual violence, or making sexual advances on a partner who has not consented
  • Stalking, or continued attention that makes the target feel unsafe or fear for the safety of a loved one
  • Psychological violence, or attempts to cause mental or emotional damage and/or control a partner

When it comes to abusive behavior, your partner’s intent does not matter. Abusers often tell victims they didn’t mean any harm, or that they got stressed and made a mistake. Even if they truly mean this (some abusers will use this language to intensify their control over their victims), if you feel unsafe because of the interaction, looking for help is a valid response. In fact, a third party can provide valuable advice if you’re scared. Someone with no connections to a situation may be able to identify power dynamics that we ourselves are too enmeshed in to see.

Escaping Abuse During a Stay-at-Home Order

If you are caught in a household with an abusive partner, the orders to maintain social distancing may feel like a trap. Certainly, there are many fewer ways to escape dangerous homes at this time. However, removing yourself (and, if applicable, your children) from an abusive situation is always considered “essential.” Judges are maintaining their availability by using videoconferencing technology specifically for urgent matters such as restraining order petitions.

While it is possible for an individual to seek a court order on their own, our attorneys can also help with the process. In domestic violence cases, we use all the tools at our disposal to assist a victim. An attorney’s assistance can be invaluable in finding a solution that not only keeps you safe but also allows you and your children to move forward. If your partner is abusive it is them, not you, who will legally bear the burden of finding new accommodations.

How You Can Get Help

First off, if you or your children are in imminent danger, call 911. Police respond to every domestic violence complaint and can arrest an aggressive or threatening spouse. If this is your situation, do not pursue legal help before you have removed yourself and your children from danger.

If your current situation is not bad enough to merit a 911 call, we suggest you make a plan for leaving quickly, if you need to. Do you have nearby family who could take you in? A friend who has a spare room you could use for the night? You and your children’s safety is the most important thing at this time.

When you’re ready to reach out for help, counselors suggest you wait until your significant other is not around. Whether this entails calling during a solo trip to the grocery store, volunteering to walk the dog in the rain, or just waiting until your partner is in the shower, being able to speak freely matters. See the end of our post for a list of organizations you can contact for advice and shelter.

Finally, if you know someone who might be facing domestic violence, simply reaching out during this time can be life-changing. Often, abusers control their victims by convincing them there is no one else who cares about them. Especially with most of us cut off from work and other social networks, this kind of manipulation can dissuade victims from reaching out for help. No matter what an abuser says, there is always support for those trying to escape domestic violence.

Know Your Legal Options

If you need help removing an abusive partner from your life, Owenby Law, P.A. can put the strength of a knowledgeable and tough attorney team on your side. We understand how difficult it is to take your first steps away from an abusive situation. You can trust that we will take the time to listen to your story and help you find a plan that meets your needs.

Call us 24/7 at (904) 770-3141 or send us a message online and our team will reach out to you. We offer free 30-minute consultations and can start your case via email, phone, or video conferencing.

Resources for Domestic Violence Victims