Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks talks about domestic violence during a Feb. 22 interview in her office in Upper Marlboro. Alsobrooks remains one of the biggest advocates in the fight to combat domestic abuse, both mental and physical. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks talks about domestic violence during a Feb. 22 interview in her office in Upper Marlboro. Alsobrooks remains one of the biggest advocates in the fight to combat domestic abuse, both mental and physical. (Travis Riddick/The Washington Informer)

Americans are being told to stay home as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the country. And while it’s been proven to be the most efficient way to decrease the spike in infections and deaths, there’s also an unfortunate side effect that has arisen — an increase in domestic violence.

In fact, experts warn that isolation may well result in “devastating” outcomes for survivors now being forced to hunker down in shelters that have already proven to be unsafe if not downright deadly.

Consider, that while surviving adults and children once were able to leave home and go to safer environs including schools, workplaces or the homes of other family members or neighbors, now there’s nowhere to go.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, isolation presents an “incredibly distressing” time for survivors with the group already hearing examples of how the coronavirus outbreak has impacted victims.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one in four women and one in seven men have experienced several physical violence from an intimate partner. Now, with stress at a higher level than normal, it’s likely to cause even more anger and frustration in families — even without abuse being a routine component within their everyday lives.

It’s hard to predict the numbers but with more than 15,000 cases of coronavirus across the nation and with 201 deaths as of last Friday, domestic violence volunteers are fearing the worst.

Locally, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam along with Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks have both raised the issue as one that must not be overlooked. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine also suggests that adults interact with teens and younger children about managing stress and conflict at home.

“Domestic violence still remains an issue in many of our communities, and we are seeing that the stress and tension that this brings often brings about more and more of those cases,” said Alsobrooks during a recent press conference, adding that commissioners’ offices are still issuing domestic violence petitions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Confining abusers and victims at home is adding pressure to what already might be a violent situation, she added.

If you’re concerned about your or someone else’s well-being, we urge you to call local police or the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency which has a crisis counseling hotline at 800-985-5990. Help also exists by calling 800-799-SAFE (the National Domestic Violence Hotline).

Be safe and remain in isolation to better protect yourselves from the coronavirus but be equally careful not to allow increased tension, anxiety or frustration to rise to such levels that you are led to hurt or abuse those whom you love.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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