CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS – Imagine a public health crisis that forces you to quarantine with a loved one who abuses you and/or your children. Imagine day in and day out having no time free from the interpersonal abuse. Imagine that the family income has disappeared due to the health crisis, as your abuser and maybe even you, have lost your job. Imagine having to try to support your child as she/he tries to complete school work. Imagine as the quarantine continues the level of abuse
begins to increase.
Now imagine you are a person of color or an immigrant. On top of the above concerns, you fear that calling the police will increase the violence your family will suffer – look here and find out for yourself. You know that by calling law enforcement your abuser could go to jail, and you will likely lose family income. If you try to defend yourself, you will be seen as the abuser.
Unfortunately, this imaginary exercise is the reality. Over the past six months, family lawyers have heard far too many stories. As the state has begun to open up, New Hope is witnessing a surge in demand for services. Hotline calls in July and August 2020 increased 45% over the same period last year. Survivors who have been isolated are reaching out and many are at high risk of serious danger, including homicide.
Our experience at New Hope is not an isolated one. A report from Brigham and Women’s Hospital noted that “. . . of the adults who sought help for physical and non-physical abuse from March 11 through May 3, those suffering physical abuse was 80% higher in 2020 than in all three earlier years put together. And the physical abuse was much more severe. In the previous three years, the Brigham saw a total of 16 “deep” injuries caused by intimate partner violence during this period. In 2020, the number of deep injuries was 28.” (LA Times science story, August 18, 2020)
is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in this year, 2020, awareness is more critical than ever. Like COVID, domestic violence is a public health crisis. Only this crisis cannot be curtailed simply by wearing masks and social distancing. Ending domestic violence requires that we all speak out and reach out to those we suspect may be struggling with this plague. Each of us can make a difference. Despite the pandemic, our hotline has continued to operate 24/7. If you are in need, please call us at 1-800-323-4673 (HOPE) or visit www-new-hope.org to reach out confidentially with Web Chat.