“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
For weeks, experts around the world have been predicting a surge in the incidents of domestic violence and child abuse due to Covid-19. The world faces the exact conditions where such abuse has traditionally risen. Historically, studies show that domestic violence rises when there is stress caused by economic fallout, families together such as during holidays and vacations, and past large-scale disasters and epidemics.
Indeed, in the EU, where restrictions have begun to lift, we have seen evidence of this. According to The New York Times, French police have reported a 30% increase in DV calls. And, in the UK, there was a 20% surge in calls to DV hotlines. Similar rises have been reported in Spain and Italy.
However, this is not the case in the US – at least not universally, so far. In fact, the public data so far in the State of Colorado shows the opposite trend. Calls to domestic violence hotlines are down, child abuse investigations are down, and Denver police reporting is down.
So, is there good news here?
Sadly, these statistics are misleading. Calls to shelters and hotlines are almost definitely down because victims are in quarantine with their abusers. They are afraid. Their movements are controlled. It is harder than ever to pick up the phone, especially during a dangerous encounter. Worse yet, some technologically savvy abusers can control or monitor victims’ cell phones, social media, and email accounts.
What can we, as responsible citizens do? Watch and listen! If you hear sounds coming from a neighbor’s home that concern you, call the police, visit if it is safe. If possible, check in on your family, friends and neighbors.
There are resources available. Of course, anyone in crisis who can do so, should get to a safe place and call 9-1-1. While shelter beds are down, there some still have availability. Trained volunteers can help if a victim is able to call out. There are some excellent resources listed below.
When possible, consider getting a protective order – these are the court orders in Colorado that used to be called “restraining orders”. Colorado courts are prioritizing protection order hearings. If you need legal assistance, our lawyers are providing consultations, including after-hours and through the weekends. If calling is difficult or unsafe, you can use our chat feature here.
We are all in this together. If you or anyone you know may be encountering domestic or child abuse in their families, here are some excellent resources to direct them to:
303-318-9989 (24 hour crisis line)
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) (24 hour crisis line. Chat available)
Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline:
844-CO-4-KIDS (24 hour crisis line)