AROUND THE WORLD NEWS
By Scottie Andrew, CNN
Updated 1840 GMT (0240 HKT) March 27, 2020
Victims of domestic violence are cut off from resources while they stay shut in during the coronavirus pandemic. Advocates are struggling to find new ways to help them.
A list of resources for domestic violence victims follows this article.
(CNN)Home is the safest place to be while a pandemic rages outside. Health officials have said as much for weeks now.
But for some, home is not a haven from violence and abuse.
Life during the coronavirus outbreak has sapped victims' outlets for relief: Running errands, speaking with counselors, visiting friends.
The pandemic has shattered exit plans that some victims have spent months developing.
And the deluge of stress and fear -- of unemployment, of sickness, of death -- is only intensifying the abuse they face.
The services designed to support even the most isolated of these victims are struggling to help from a distance.
"It is the perfect storm for someone who wants to isolate or hurt their partners," said Val Kalei Kanuha, assistant dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Washington's School of Social Work.
Abuse survivors are familiar with the rules of social isolation already. Now, the pandemic is doing the work for abusers.
The frequency and severity of domestic abuse will likely increase while Americans stay home for weeks or months during the pandemic, said Katie Ray-Jones, president and CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a service that connects victims of domestic violence with local resources.
Ray-Jones said the hotline saw an uptick in reports of partner abuse during the 2008 recession as unemployment surged. But then, victims weren't told to shut themselves in with their abusers.
The calls National Hotline staff have received since the start of state shutdowns are startling, Ray-Jones said: One woman said when she tried to go to work at an essential business, her abusive partner began to load his firearm to scare her into staying. Another said that her partner threatened to expose her to the virus on purpose and swore he wouldn't pay for treatment if she fell ill.
Communities under stay-at-home orders are already reporting higher call volumes to local domestic violence resources.
In New York's Nassau County, east of New York City, domestic violence incidents are already up 10% compared to this time last year, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told CNN affiliate WLNY. And Cincinnati-based organization Women Helping Women is receiving 30% more calls now since self-isolation started, CNN affiliate WCPO reported.
But most Americans have never lived through anything quite like the Covid-19 pandemic, said Margaret Bassett, director of the Expert Witness Program at the University of Texas at Austin's Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault.
"This is a really stressful time," Bassett said. "And the more stress that a family experiences, there's a greater risk for escalation on the part of a person who's abusive."
Some of that stress has driven people to firearms dealers and liquor stores.
Gun sales are surging nationwide, as they did after 9/11 and the stock market crash of 1987. It's a symptom of uncertain times, industry analyst Rob Southwick told CNN last week. When people are afraid of the unknown, they'll buy a gun -- even if their enemy is a virus.
Abusers often use firearms to frighten victims, whether or not they use them, Ray-Jones said. But even an abuser's possession of a firearm makes it five times more likely that a domestic violence victim will be killed, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this week -- and unemployment is strongly tied to alcohol use disorder. A 2013 study reported that as unemployment rates rise, so do dangerous drinking behaviors. And the World Health Organization said evidence suggests that excessive alcohol consumption worsens the severity and frequency of domestic violence.
Abusers find ways to isolate victims without "shelter in place" mandates. But during any other time victims could still access resources like counselors and shelters.
It's not so simple for survivors to up and leave their abuser either, and especially now, when access to hospitals and shelters is limited, Kanuha said.
"This particular situation with Covid-19 is so unusual because it really challenges all of us to think out of the 'just leave' box," she said. "You can't tell somebody to leave because there's no place to go."
Sexual assault victims may be hesitant to go to a hospital to receive a rape kit, with hospitals operating at full capacity and physicians pleading with the public to avoid burdening the health care system.
And typically advocates and counselors are on hand for support throughout the rape kit process. That isn't possible anymore, said Laura Pelumbo, communications director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Many courts are closed, too, so requests for restraining orders are indefinitely delayed.
Some victims plan their exit strategies for months. They secretly save money and make arrangements to move with their counselors' help. But the pandemic will almost certainly interrupt those plans by draining those funds, Ray-Jones said.
The children of abuse victims know where to go to get away from the violence: School, an after-school activity, a friend's house. Anywhere but home.
Now that they've got nowhere to go, children's risk of abuse is heightened, said Jeffrey Edleson, professor and dean emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley's School of Social Welfare.
"Many of the options that battered women and their children use as safety valves to get away from violence are no longer available," he told CNN.
The social ties they rely on for relief are severed. Teachers, coaches and allies outside the home who may have reported the abuse aren't with them every day. Parents may go so far as to cut off their access to electronics, which most American students now use to complete schoolwork, he said.
"A lot of young adults I've spoken with who've been exposed to violence at home often find close friends, friends' parents, relatives and teachers who are supportive of them," he said. "It helps buffer the impact of what's going on at home. But all of that is missing."
Coronavirus-related child abuse has already been reported. In Fort Worth, Texas, a children's hospital said last week they treated six severe child abuse cases in the span of a week. Hospital staff said they typically see as many patients over a month, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.
Sometimes it's the silence that's concerning. The Oregonian reported that calls to Oregon's state child abuse hotline have dropped by more than half, from 700 daily to 300 since the day the state's schools closed. Child welfare advocates worry it's because they're not in classrooms, where teachers can report abuse on their behalf.
Even in families where conflict has never escalated to violence, children are now at a higher risk of physical abuse because of additional stressors like unemployment, Edleson said.
"That conflict can be pushed to a physical level," he said. "And especially closed in small quarters."
Local, regional and national coalitions are still operating as essential organizations under several states' stay-at-home orders, but the way they deliver their services has changed.
In most cases, it's no longer possible for victims to meet with case workers, and many women's shelters have stopped accepting new clients to protect their current residents, Ray-Jones said.
Many victims are relying on hotlines to report their abuse and find help -- but only those who are still able to safely contact them.
And once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, Ray-Jones said she expects victims to flood hotlines. They may not know how many victims there are until the coronavirus pandemic is over.
"People with abusive partners don't reach out for help until the holidays are over," Ray-Jones said. "We think there's going to be a huge surge, potentially, once quarantines are lifted and people are returning to work."
So social workers are preparing now, transitioning to remote work where they can and getting resources -- numbers to call, mental health services available -- in the hands of victims.
But there are still victims that advocates can't reach.
That's where all of us come in, Kanuha said.
For victims who don't have access to websites, the phone or other people, friends, coworkers or neighbors should reach out to them and advocate on their behalf. Print out resources. Call a hotline if you fear for their safety. If you work together, seek them out under the guise of a work matter and ask how they're doing. Listen rather than responding right away, Kanuha said.
"Just let people share and talk and ask for what they need, and then you can figure out if you can help them," she said. "The best place to start is just to listen."
There's no blanket approach to help all victims of abuse. Their identities, whether they're a child or adult, identify as LGBTQ+, are differently abled or an undocumented immigrant, change the help they need and are able to get, Kanuha said.
Covid-19 is another variable in their lives now. But it's one abuse victims share with nearly everyone.
National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
Available 24/7. Can connect callers with local resources and immediate support. Also available through online chat tool.
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
Provided by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). Available 24/7. Also available through online chat tool.
Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741
Available 24/7 for victims of abuse and any other type of crisis.
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453
Available 24/7 in 170 different languages.
Office on Women's Health Helpline 1-800-994-9662
A resource provided by the US Department of Health & Human Services.
WHO releases guidelines to help countries maintain essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide. The rapidly increasing demand on health facilities and health care workers threatens to leave some health systems overstretched and unable to operate effectively.
Previous outbreaks have demonstrated that when health systems are overwhelmed, mortality from vaccine-preventable and other treatable conditions can also increase dramatically. During the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, the increased number of deaths caused by measles, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis attributable to health system failures exceeded deaths from Ebola [1,2].
“The best defense against any outbreak is a strong health system,” stressed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “COVID-19 is revealing how fragile many of the world’s health systems and services are, forcing countries to make difficult choices on how to best meet the needs of their people.”
To help countries navigate through these challenges, the World Health Organization (WHO) has updated operational planning guidelines in balancing the demands of responding directly to COVID-19 while maintaining essential health service delivery, and mitigating the risk of system collapse. This includes a set of targeted immediate actions that countries should consider at national, regional, and local level to reorganize and maintain access to high-quality essential health services for all.
Countries should identify essential services that will be prioritized in their efforts to maintain continuity of service delivery and make strategic shifts to ensure that increasingly limited resources provide maximum benefit for the population. They also need to comply with the highest standard in precautions, especially in hygiene practices, and the provision of adequate supplies including personal protective equipment This requires robust planning and coordinated actions between governments and health facilities and their managers.
Some examples of essential services include: routine vaccination; reproductive health services including care during pregnancy and childbirth; care of young infants and older adults; management of mental health conditions as well as noncommunicable diseases and infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and TB; critical inpatient therapies; management of emergency health conditions; auxiliary services like basic diagnostic imaging, laboratory services, and blood bank services, among others.
Well-organized and prepared health systems can continue to provide equitable access to essential service delivery throughout an emergency, limiting direct mortality and avoiding increased indirect mortality.
The guidelines stress the importance of keeping up-to-date information. This requires frequent transparent communications with the public, and strong community engagements so the public can maintain trust in the system to safely meet their essential needs and to control infection risk in health facilities. This will help ensure that people continue to seek care when appropriate, and adhere to public health advice.
WHATS HAPPENING IN SOUTH AFRICA WITH VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ABUSE AGAINST WOMEN
CPUT STUDENT KIDNAPPED OUTSIDE HOSPITAL, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED
On Tuesday night, the woman was abducted outside Tygerberg Hospital and sexually assault.
FILE: Picture: SAPS.
Kevin Brandt | about 2 hours ago
CAPE TOWN - There seems to be no end to the attacks on women. A nursing student has become the latest victim. On Tuesday night, the woman was abducted outside Tygerberg Hospital and sexually assault. The Cape Peninsula University of Technology nursing student has received medical treatment and counselling at Karl Bremer Hospital's Thuthuzela Care centre. The Western Cape Health Department's Nomawethu Sbukwana: "The minister condemns thee horrific attacks on students and she is working together with the SAPS around the circumstances of this attack."The department said that after her attack she was released. Officials said that they had visited the victim and would assist her on the path to healing.
WOMAN'S BODY FOUND NEAR GUGULETHU SCHOOL
It's unclear how she was killed.
Picture: Winnie Theletsane/EWN
Kevin Brandt | about an hour ago
Official statistics prove War on Women is real – and pretty words are mere lip service
By Marianne Merten• 4 September 2019
Uyinene Mrwetyana, a UCT student, went missing on 24 August 2019 and a suspect was arrested for her murder and rape on 2 September 2019. Photo: Facebook/Zuki Lamani Less
One voice at the Cape Town protest: “No more, no f**king more!”
By Anso Thom• 5 September 2019
Peaceful cop. A policeman holds a poster and flower at the protest march against femicide and Gender Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Parliament's gate is in the background. Photo: Anso Thom Less
5 September 2019. 10am. Parliament, Cape Town. The day a crowd, that swelled to tens of thousands, gathered for one of Cape Town’s largest protests in recent history. A collection of angry, confrontational, “gatvol”, demanding messages on posters and shouted towards the stage and heavens added colour and voice. Men took a quieter backseat as young and old women of all hues gathered for the protest march against femicide and gender-based violence. The brutal murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, whose body was found at the weekend, has sparked an outpouring of anger and grief, but it has also sparked a “no more, no fucking more” and “enough is enough” outcry. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the crowd at the end of the protest. The Cape Town protest is one of several that have already taken place with a big gathering planned in Johannesburg next week.
My body, not your crime scene. There were many rightfully angry messages at the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
An unidentified woman protestor listens to Cyril Ramaphosa address the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
Mass protest. Learners and young women at a protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
A protestor in front of the police line at the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
Message fence. Protestors place their posters and flowers on parliament’s fence at the end of the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
Justice for Jesse. Protestors placed posters and flowers on Parliament’s fence and gates after the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 in Cape Town. The slain bodies of UWC student Jesse Hess and her grandfather Chris were found in their Parow flat last Friday. Photo: Anso Thom
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane attended the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
Remembering Nene. Tens of thousands participated in the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Most brought posters with their own messaging. This poster refers to UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, whose murder sparked the protest. Photo: Anso Thom
Lucinda Evans, Executive Director of Philisa Abafazi Bethu Women and Children’s Program in Lavender Hill on the Cape Flat addresses the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
President Cyril Ramaphosa accepted a memorandum and addressed a sea of people at the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
Enough is enough. A sea of people at the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
On Notice. Protestors placed their posters on Parliament’s fence following the protest march against femicide and Gender-Based Violence on 5 September 2019 outside Parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Anso Thom
RAMAPHOSA: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS A CRIME AGAINST OUR COMMON HUMANITY
There were protests against gender-based violence in Parliament this week following the murder of several women and children including UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxer Leighandre Jegels.
FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.
WATCH: Ramaphosa announces harsher measures for abusers
WATCH: 5 POINTS FROM RAMAPHOSA’S PLAN TO FIGHT GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
watch: [FULL SPEECH] President Ramaphosa's address on recent violence in SA
WATCH: SA women took to the streets to protest against gender-based violence