Looking out for domestic abuse survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic

MARQUETTE COUNTY — Most of us are isolating ourselves at home to keep ourselves safe from COVID–19. However, for those living in an abusive household, being stuck at home can be a dangerous situation.

Women’s Center Executive Director Beth Casady says that while we may not be aware of domestic abuse situations during this time, that doesn’t mean they aren’t occurring.

In fact, the ongoing pandemic could be affecting the types of abuse a survivor endures in unique ways.

Abusers might withhold items like sanitizer or soap, or they might force the survivor to sleep outside in a car rather than in the home. It can be extremely difficult for survivors to get out of these types of situations.

“Survivors will often put up with horrendous abuse, particularly to help save their children or to keep their family together,” said Casady. “And so, while we’ve been very quiet locally, it doesn’t mean that it’s not going on. And what it might mean is that people are hunkering in and they’re doing the best that they can to keep themselves safe, as well as their children.”

Casady says that if anyone suspects something might be wrong with a friend or neighbor, they should try to offer support. Depending on the situation, that could mean creating a signal to show a trusted neighbor that they need assistance, or it could mean offering to provide a friend with meals or cleaning supplies.

“It can be as simple as if you know there’s been domestic violence or trauma in that home before and maybe you see that person going out for a walk, you run outside for a walk too,” said Casady. “And that’s an opportunity for you, as long as you stay within 6 feet of each other, to reach out and say, ‘Hey, is everything okay? Is there anything I can do for you?’ and not be afraid to ask people if everything is okay.”

The Women’s Center in Marquette continues to maintain its 24/7 support line for everything from simple questions to crisis support. The number for that support line is (906) 226-6611 locally, or (1800) 455-6611. The shelter is currently able to hold fewer people due to social distancing requirements, but it is still open for anyone in need.

To contact the Women’s Center or to find more information, visit their website. You can also find more information on the Women’s Center Facebook page.