SHELTER IN PLACE, SHELTER IN VIOLENCE: LOCKDOWN LEADS TO INCREASE IN DOMESTIC ABUSE

THERE’S A LOOMING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS AND WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO GET AHEAD OF IT, SAYS ADVOCATE SELVARATNAM

SELVARATNAM: STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS ‘ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL’ TO SAVE LIVES BUT THEY PUT MANY WOMEN IN GREATER DANGER  

ADVISES VICTIMS TO CALL 911 IF THEY ARE IN DANGER OR HAVE BEEN PHYSICALLY HARMED 

Quarantines and shelter-in-place orders meant to protect public health may be fueling abusive relationships. The United Nations is reporting a ‘horrifying surge’ in domestic violence worldwide. Law enforcement officials in many cities across America report domestic violence increased in March as the pandemic spread. In New York, the mayor’s office reported a spike in online visitors to the city’s domestic violence resource website. For weeks, advocates have been sounding the alarm that the outbreak could also be disastrous for people in abusive relationships and for families forced to isolate with their abusers. Tanya Selvaratnam, an advocate for domestic violence victims and one of four women to accuse then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of physical abuse, discusses the crisis and the urgent need for action.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES

***CALL 911 IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER***

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

NEW YORK

New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906; Deaf or hard of hearing: 711

In New York City: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or dial 311 and ask for domestic violence hotline; 1-800-810-7444 (TTD)

Domestic Violence Programs By County: https://www.nyscadv.org/find-help/program-directory.html

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-572-SAFE (7233); if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto https://thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. Also, if you are deaf and need support, please call the National Deaf videophone at 1-855-812-1001.

New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA): 1-800-601-7200

Essex County Family Justice Center (Newark, NJ): 973-230-7229; if you are in need of emergency shelter, please call The Safe House hotline: 973-759-2154.

CONNECTICUT

CTSafeConnect: 888-774-2900; or email confidentially at safeconnect@ctcadv.org.

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 860-282-7899

The Center for Family Justice (Bridgeport, CT): Domestic Abuse Hotline: 203-384-9559, Sexual Assault Hotline: 203-333-2233

 

Aired on April 7, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METRO FOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANNEGAN.

RIGHT NOW HOME IS THE SAFEST PLACE FOR PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD TO BE BUT ACCORDING TO EXPERTS AND ADVOCATES THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY THE CASE FOR PEOPLE IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS.

THE UNITED NATIONS CALLING TO ADDRESS THE HORN-- HORRIFYING S OF ABUSE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS DURING COVID-19.

COMING UP, A WRITER, ARTIST AND PRODUCER WHO CAME UP WITH HER OWN ALE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL FIRST I WANT TO START WITH WHAT MIGHT START WITH WHAT MAY BE A BIT OF A GLIB QUESTION.

THAT IS, HOW ARE THESE QUARANTINES AFFECTING THE PEOPLE WHO FIND THEMSELVES IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS, HOW IS THIS PERHAPS EXASPERATION BAITING THE PROBLEM.

THE STAY-AT-HOME IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR SAVING LIVES BUT FOR MANY WOMEN THAT IS PUTTING THEM IN GREATER DANGER BECAUSE THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR THEM IS IN THEIR OWN HOME IF THEY'RE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP AND THEIR CHILDREN ARE AT GREAT RISK AND ALSO WITNESSING THE VIOLENCE OF THEIR PARENTS.

SO IT IS A LOOMING CRISIS THAT IS A BIPRODUCT OF THE PANDEMIC AND THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET AHEAD OF IT.

PLACES LIKE CHINA AND FRANCE AND SPAIN THERE'S REPORTS OF INCREASED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THEY'VE TRIED TO INSTITUTE MEASURES TO HELP THE SITUATION.

FOR INSTANCE, INSTITUTING THE CODE SYSTEM IN SPAIN.

GOING TO YOUR PHARMACY IN FRANCE, TO MAKE A CALL TO A HOTLINE, ET CETERA.

THESE ARE ALL MEASURES WE NEED TO BE MAKING MORE KNOWN HERE.

OF COURSE, AND WHEN IT COMES TO MEASURE THAT'S ARE BEING MADE MORE KNOWN HERE, NOW, A COMMON PRACTICE AT LEAST THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TOLD IS, IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS, IF YOU ARE FINDING YOURSELF IN TROUBLE CALL 911.

NOW WE'VE ALREADY HEARD FROM THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER THAT THEY'VE SEEN A DECREASE IN CALLS TO 91 BUT AT THE SAME TIME THEY'VE SEEN AN INCREASE IN VISITORS TO THEIR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WEBSITE.

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SHIFT IN PEOPLE REACHING OUT FOR HELP WOULD INDICATE ABOUT THE SITUATION THAT THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN.

I THINK THE DECREASE IN CALLS DOESN'T NECESSARILY INDICATE A DECREASE IN INCIDENTS.

WHAT IT COULD INDICATE IS THAT THE VICTIMS ARE NOW IN A PLACE WHERE THEY CAN'T SAFELY MAKE A CALL.

THEIR ABUSERS ARE RIGHT BESIDE THEM MONITORING THEIR PHONES, AND THEIR ACCESS TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD.

THIS IS WHERE IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW PEOPLE IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS TO REACH OUT TO THEM AND MAYBE BE THEIR LIFELINE TO THOSE VICTIMS THAT ARE IN QUARANTINE.

THERE'S RESOURCES OUT THERE.

NATIONAL DOMESTIC HOT LINE, 1800799-SAFE.

THERE'S ALSO THE NEW YORK STATE HOT LINE.

WHICH IS, I'M GOING TO GET THIS NUMBER FOR YOU.

IT WAS IN GOVERNOR'S CUOMO DID BRIEFING.

IT IS 800-942-6906.

THOSE ARE SOME RESOURCES OUT THERE.

WHEN WE GET THE GUIDELINES ABOUT HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS CRISIS IN TERMS OF OUR PERSONAL HEALTH, WASHING OUR HANDS, WEARING MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES, THERE'S SHOULD ALSO BE GUIDELINES ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BECAUSE WOMEN AND CHILDREN ARE MORE AT RISK DURING THESE VERY, VERY DEVASTATING TIMES.

OF COURSE, AND NOT ONLY WITH THE QUARANTINES, BUT I WOULD ASSUME THAT ALSO WITH THE UNCERTAINTY AND THE JOB MARKET, PEOPLE MAY BE LOSING INCOME, ET CETERA, THAT COULD ALSO BE ADDING STRESS TO SITUATIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE ALREADY INCREDIBLY STRESSED.

SO MY NEXT QUESTION IS, EVEN THOUGH AS YOU JUST DESCRIBED, NOT ALL DOMESTIC ABUSE IS IN THE FORM OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPERIENCING PHYSICAL VIOLENCE THERE'S A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF APPREHENSION ABOUT GOING TO HOSPITALS AS WE HEAR ON THE NEWS ER RG ROOMS ARE OVERWHELMED AND THERE'S NO MORE ROOM AND DOCTORS ARE STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT FIND THEM SELVES IN NEED OF MEDICAL ATTENTION?

MY ADVICE IS WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING.

IN AN EMERGENCY, IF YOU ARE IN DANGER, IF YOU HAVE BEEN PHYSICALLY HARMED, CALL 911.

THAT REALLY IS, AT THE MOMENT, THE BEST RESORT.

AND I'M HOPING THAT OUR GOVERNMENT REALLY TAKES THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN VERY SERIOUSLY RIGHT NOW.

THOSE WHO ARE IN SITUATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

FOR INSTANCE, CANADA ANNOUNCED PART OF ITS COVID-19 ECONOMIC RELIEF MEASURES IT WAS LOCATED $40 MILLION TO SHELTERS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORGANIZATIONS.

THAT'S A REALLY IMPORTANT STATEMENT.

AND I FEEL LIKE CAN FOLLOW EXAMPLES LIKE THAT.

OF COURSE, OF COURSE.

I WAS ALSO WONDERING IF YOU COULD TALK TO ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT SOME VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE MIGHT BE EXPERIENCING, NOT JUST BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, BUT JUST I GUESS, STATISTICALLY.

A I UNDERSTAND, A BIG PROBLEM FOR WOMEN COULD BE PUTTING THEMSELVES SECOND AND THEIR ABUSER BEFORE THEM, IN TERMS OF NEEDS AND CARING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS.

ALSO THERE'S THE ISSUE OF SHAME.

A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T WANT THIS TO BECOME PUBLIC.

THEY MIGHT BE HESITANT TO ASK FOR HELP OR GO TO A SHELTER IF THAT'S NECESSARY.

WELL, I WANT TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE STORIES I'M HEARING THAT ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW THAT SHOW KIND OF AN INCREASE IN THE TENURE AND INTENSITY OF THE ABUSE THAT WOMEN ARE EXPERIENCING.

FOR EXAMPLE A CALLER'S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOT LINE TALKED ABOUT HER HUSBAND THREATENING TO THROW HER OUT OF THE HOUSE TO EXPOSE HER TO THE VIRUS.

ANOTHER WOMAN TALKED ABOUT BEING FORCED TO WASH HER HANDS UNTIL THEY BLED.

ALSO WE'RE HEARING ABOUT INCREASE IN SALES OF FIREARMS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

PERPETRATORS OF GUN VIOLENCE ARE OFTEN PERPETRATORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

THESE ARE ALL SCARY INDICATORS, BUT WHILE THEY'RE SCARY INDICATORS I DO BREF THERE ARE SOLUTIONS AND WE NEED FOR OUR STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS TO SUPPORT THEM, TO PROVIDE THEM.

THERE'S FAMILY JUSTICE CENTER.

SANCTIFY -- CDC REPORT ONE IN THREE WOMEN EXPERIENCE ABUSE, STOCKING, BY AN -- STALKING, BY A PARTNER.

SHOCKING STATISTICS.

AND U.S. NAMED THE 10th MOST DANGEROUS PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR WOMEN.

THE ONLY WESTERN COUNTRY ON THAT LIST.

WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY DURING THIS PANDEMIC TO TRY AND BUILD A BETTER FUTURE.

TO ENVISION SOLUTIONS FOR A KINDER, MORE HUMANE WORLD.

WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

WE'RE ALL IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL.

WE CAN ENVISION SOLUTIONS TO HELP THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO REALLY NEED US RIGHT NOW.

THOSE WHO ARE IN SITUATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

OKAY.

I'M SPEAKING WITH TANYA SILVER RUTMAN, WRITER, PRODUCER, ARTIST.

YOU HAVE A BOOK TITLED 'ASSUME NOTHING: A MEMOIR OF PERSONAL VIOLENCE' I WONDER IF YOU COULD TELL US ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL STORY AND HOW IT AFFECTED YOU AS A WOMAN.

I WAS ALWAYS SOMEONE WHO THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER PUT UP WITH ABUSE, AND THEN IT HAPPENED TO ME.

AND IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO SPOT IT, AND THEN IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO GET OUT OF IT.

IN BRIEF, I WRITE IN THE BOOK ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE OF ABUSE AT THE HANDS OF A VERY POWERFUL PUBLIC FIGURE, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK STATE, ERIC SNYDERMAN IT TOOK A OPENING UP OF A FRIEND WHO ASKED QUESTIONS THAT HAD ME OPEN UP AND WHAT SHE HEARD ME DESCRIBE MY EXPERIENCES SHE ASKED IF I WOULD BE WILLING TO SPEAK WITH A FRIEND OF HERS WHO IS A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXPERT, JENNIFER FREEDMAN WHO IS A LEGAL DIRECTOR AFTER SANCTUARY TO FOR FAMILIES, I REALIZED I WAS DEALING WITH ABUSE AND WAS PART OF A PATTERN AND I WAS ONE OF MILLIONS.

AS A SURVIVOR TOLD WHEN I WAS DEALING WITH MY OWN SITUATION, YOU'RE NOT CRAZY, YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

IN WRITING THIS BOOK I WANTED TO CONVEY THAT MESSAGE TO OTHER PEOPLE.

THE BOOK IS DESCRIBED AS A THRILLER WITH THE POTENTIAL TO SAVE LIVES.

I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING IT OUT IN THE WORLD.

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO LAUNCH THIS MONTH BUT IS BEING DELAYED FOR VERY GOOD REASONS, WHICH IS THE THEME IS TIMELESS, BREAKING FREE FROM ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS BUT YOU CAN'T BREAK FREE WHILE IN QUARANTINE.

COULD INSTEAD I WROTE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES ABOUT HOW TO NAVIGATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES AND I LOOK FORWARD TO LAUNCHING THE BOOK WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT WHEN IT CAN REACH THE PEOPLE THAT I'M HOPING IT WILL HELP THE MOST.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, TANYA, WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

BUT I WOULD LOVE IF YOU COULD REITERATE THE NUMBERS PEOPLE COULD CALL IF THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN CRISIS.

THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC HOT LINE AND OF COURSE THE ONE FOR NEW YORK STATE.

THE NOGS DOMESTIC HOT LINE IS 1-800-799-SAFE.

S-A-F-E.

AND THE NEW YORK STATE HOT LINE IS 1-800-942-6906.

ALSO, IF IT IS AN EMERGENCY CALL 911.

AND IF YOU YOURSELF CAN'T MALAYSIA THE CALL -- MAKE THE CALL FIND A WAY TO HAVE A FRIEND P USE A CODE WORD, LEG LET THEM KNOW YOU'RE IN DANGER.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE WORK YOU DO, WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR BOOK BEING RELEASED AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME AND HIGHLIGHTING THIS IMPORTANT JISHL AND I HOPE THAT NEXT TIME WE CAN DO THIS INTERVIEW IN PERSON.

ABSOLUTELY.

ME TOO.

THANK YOU, AGAIN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

BE WELL.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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