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Centering Survivors in Times of Crisis

March 17, 2020

A Statement from Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO

Like the rest of the nation, at NNEDV, we share the concerns about the impact and risks presented by coronavirus (COVID-19). Serving and supporting survivors at this time has taken on a new and more urgent dimension. Survivors in shelters and the advocates who help them are also thinking about ways to stay healthy and safe.  Domestic violence programs must face these challenges without interrupting lifesaving services. While national leaders have encouraged us to stay home to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also know that home is not safe for many adults and children. The spread of the COVID-19 will also create housing, childcare, financial, and other barriers that impact survivors’ safety.

Crises like COVID-19, similar to natural disasters, reduce the options for domestic violence survivors because there are fewer services and interventions available – shelters may not have space available, courts might not be processing emergency protection orders, doctors might not have time to make referrals.

In addition, survivors may be trapped with abusive partners if they lose their jobs or cannot work due to COVID-19.  Perpetrators often act with impunity, increasing their abusive behavior because they think victims cannot leave. With minimal access to paid time off or unemployment insurance, survivors can be dependent on an abusive partner for housing and support. The majority of victims of domestic violence experience financial abuse, which is exacerbated during an economic downturn because victims may lose their jobs or be unable to find work.

NNEDV is working alongside our national partners and state and territorial coalitions to ensure that local domestic violence programs have the support they need to keep doors open and survivors safe. We have collected resources on our website that you can use for more information about responding to COVID-19. We also launched new resources to help programs offer mobile services and work remotely while maintaining survivors’ confidentiality. Our Digital Services Toolkit helps programs use technology to communicate with survivors during a public health crisis.

While this pandemic may present novel and significant concerns, the resilience of survivors and the work of domestic violence advocates, service providers, and local shelters, in the face of overwhelming challenges, is not new.. But we need your support to help them make it through this crisis: donate today. We also need your voices to help us pass legislation that will provide flexible financial support, food, housing, and paid sick and safe days to survivors: take action now

Thank you for the work you do in your communities and your support of NNEDV and survivors of domestic violence.

Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO