Coronavirus’ Continued Impact on Abuse Victims

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After another record-breaking weekend , coronavirus is continuing to threaten the health and safety of Americans across the country. As different states attempt to reopen economies, businesses, and schools safely, thousands of domestic abuse and child abuse victims are uncertain of their futures as quarantine and social distancing measures continue into the summer.
When the pandemic first began, experts were fearful for the safety of those trapped at home with their abuser. Domestic violence victims were especially vulnerable as shelters and safe houses transitioned to online-support services in order to maintain the health of their faculty and the people they serve. For children suffering from abuse, the situation was equally dire.
According to Darkness to Light, around 30% of abused children are abused by a member of
their family . Without access to trusted adults who typically report abuse, like teachers, coaches, and family friends, many abused children are self-reporting their abuse. Over 60,000 people received help from RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) in May and June. This is the highest number in the history of RAINN and an indication that many people suffering are seeking their own support during the pandemic.
Survivors of abuse have also had to put legal cases on hold as a result of the pandemic as
states like New York shut down their courts in order to curb rising coronavirus numbers. After extensive lobbying efforts, New York passed legislation to extend the look-back window by five months to allow survivors to file child sexual abuse lawsuits . Whether or not other states with similar look-back window legislation will follow New York’s example remains to be seen.
As the pandemic stretches on, experts are continuing to support abuse survivors and ensure they have access to resources they need. As a rule, adults who are near children should familiarize themselves with the signs of abuse so that they may fill the void of mandated reporters if need be. On a larger scale, organizations like RAINN and the National Domestic Abuse Hotline have 24/7 online chat rooms available to help and support victims who are quarantining with their abusers.
Though we are all facing unprecedented stress and anxiety during this time, it is critical that especially vulnerable abuse victims have the support they need to be safe as the pandemic continues.

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