West Virginia Governor Jim Justice recently issued a “safer-at-home” order to replace the stay-at-home order. During the stay-at-home order, residents were urged to shelter in place and only travel for essential purposes, like going to work, getting groceries, and getting medical attention.
What we once considered “normal” may not return for several weeks or months, if it returns at all. While the stay-at-home order has helped slow the spread of COVID-19, it came with other consequences. Mental health is being affected at an alarming rate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks can affect mental health in the following ways:
- Ongoing fear and worry
- Disturbances in sleeping and eating patterns
- Worsening mental and general health
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol
The link between COVID-19 and domestic violence
Everyone is affected by this. Families who reside with someone who is prone to abusive behavior are especially at risk.
Domestic violence tends to rise when families spend more time together, such as during holidays and summer vacations. Now, many parents are either working from home or out of work. Children are out of school until September. As a result, incidents of domestic violence have become more frequent and more dangerous than ever.
According to Times West Virginian, the rise in domestic violence cases coincides with COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. In fact, WVU sociology research professor Henry Brownstein believes that the problem will likely get worse before it gets better.
“Home is not always the safest place for people. I’ve been thinking about this all day, and it’s really hard to say whether the shelter requests we’re receiving are directly related to people having to be at home because of COVID-19 or if we would have had these requests anyway,” said Brownstein.
Across the U.S., police departments and domestic violence shelters have reported a major uptick in cases due to the pandemic. Currently, it’s hard to tell how many victims of domestic violence are not seeking help due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The real number of cases could, therefore, be much higher than anticipated.
“Now you have a situation where people aren’t allowed on the streets, and if they’re not going out and they’re staying at home, that’s where these events happen. And if you take somebody who is being abused and tell them they have to stay in their house all the time with the person abusing them, what do you think is going to happen? There are a lot of frustrations right now,” said Brownstein.
Solutions to the domestic violence crisis
Families need to know that they have options and support during this time, whether it be from law enforcement, local shelters, or an experienced attorney.
To help victims of domestic abuse, the family law attorneys at Klie Law Offices are representing victims and their families. If you are a victim of domestic violence, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. Contact us online or call our Buckhannon, WV law office at 866-408-9059 and schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.