COVID-19 Information for Domestic Violence Victims

Photo credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS
Photo credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Due to COVID-19, many women may be quarantined at home with their abusers. If you or someone you love is in this situation, domestic violence organizations and shelters are developing resources to keep you safe during this health crisis.  

1. Create a safety plan. You can call or chat online with an advocate to come up with a safety plan or create one yourself using this interactive guide. Experts suggest that you stay near exits if possible, be aware of where your abuser is in the house and stay away from rooms with weapons. Establishing a code word with a trusted individual and with children in the house is another tactic. See this guide for more ideas on developing a safety plan. 

2. Practice Self-Care. For survivors of domestic or other violence, this crisis can be triggering or re-traumatizing. See ideas on how to practice self-care during this stressful time here. See also this guide to safer drug use during a shelter-in-place. If you are experiencing emotional stress or crisis and need someone to talk to, see this NAMI guide to resources for more information or call their help line at (800) 950-6264. Finally, it is important to stay connected to trusted family and friends during this time.  

3. Reach out if it is safe to do so. Crisis lines like the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) and RAINN (800-656-HOPE) remain open 24/7, including online chat or texting. For women under a shelter-in-place, the online chat or texting functions may be safer options than a phone call. 

4. Protect yourself while using online resources. Ensure that the device you’re using is not being monitored. Consult this survivor toolkit from the National Network to End Domestic Violence to learn more about how you can access online resources safely. If it is not safe or possible for you to access this manual, ask a trusted family member or friend to review it for you and help you learn how to protect your device for monitoring

5. Relocate to a shelter or alternate housing. Though many shelters remain open during the health crisis, consider setting up alternate housing with a trusted family member or friend to protect your health. Some governments and shelters are setting up hotel rooms for survivors. Ask your local hotline about this option when seeking help. 

6. Call 911 in an emergency. 911 and emergency services are still available for all emergencies, including domestic violence. If your abuser becomes increasingly physically violent, or you believe you or your children are at increased danger, do not hesitate to call 911.