COVID-19 affected the world in so many negative ways, including lost loved ones and economic pressure. It also contributed to high rates of increased domestic violence around the world, confining women and families in dangerous or volatile situations. The New York Times called this issue a new public health crisis and said governments around the world are ill-prepared to keep survivors safe.
Saving Grace is one of many organizations providing relief to domestic abuse survivors, and although Lora DiCarlo is proud to have partnered with them previously, we can't stress enough how much the public should continue uplifting this organization.
Saving Grace provides comprehensive family violence and sexual assault services in Central Oregon and promotes the value of living life free from violence. Those surviving violence in their relationships and families may be experiencing increased isolation and danger due to the state restrictions pertaining to COVID-19.
In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Marsha Scott, chief executive for Scottish Women’s Aid, said there is increased opportunity to exhibit control over a partner while trapped at home, making it easier to exhibit violent or abusive behaviors.
"The pandemic may increase the opportunities for people who are already abusing to control and coerce women and children in their homes to a greater degree - micromanaging who they talk to, when they eat, when they sleep, when they go out, and this is all made harder and more frightening in the context of the pandemic,” Dr. Scott told the BBC.
Saving Grace also addressed the increase in local domestic violence calls after Oregon police reported receiving 20 percent more calls during the pandemic. The organization noted it is important to understand that not all domestic violence calls are of an intimate nature, and could include parents, loved ones or other family living together in one place.
“The calls are coded as domestic violence calls when it is determined that the people cohabitate together or are immediate family members,” the website states.
Saving Grace said that decreases in calls in other areas was actually just as troubling, considering some victims or survivors may not have the chance to ask for help.
“Oftentimes victims cannot get away from their abuser to make a call for help or services,” the website read.
In response, Saving Grace is testing and establishing a 24/7 helpline and new chat features to assist survivors trapped in difficult situations. Their new Chatline will complement the 24-Hour Helpline and will initially be available Monday through Friday, from 11:00am-2:00pm. These hours will be adjusted or increased based on the community’s needs.
Saving Grace provides emergency shelter for survivors, and their website describes the private, secure location in detail. Rooms include colorful, handmade quilts and residents have access to a large double kitchen during their stay. They receive food, clothing and other services designed to assist them in creating a new life free from violence.
These facilities and other outreach programs, like the new hotline available for survivors, requires financial contributions to serve the community meaningfully. We are proud to provide at least some small part of the resources needed to continue their work.
The situation for domestic violence survivors during COVID-19 is dire. Housing is difficult to find, and jobs are scarce if any are available at all. Particularly for families with children, increased financial difficulty makes it harder than ever to escape a bad partner or home. The New York Times reported that many organizations around the world, already underfunded, are more strained than ever, so many victims must spend weeks longer in abusive situations than they might normally.
The Times stated that in countries around the world, domestic violence calls seemed to spike after about 10 days locked inside, as tensions and controlling partners spiral out of control. Economic tensions contribute, but as mentioned, domestic violence survivors must live with controlling partners who are more likely than ever to be stressed or upset while locked indoors. Without the ability to see family, friends, or go to work, many countries are seeing double digit increases in calls to police.
Despite the grim outcome, there is hope. Organizations like Saving Grace continue to provide life-saving services to survivors and help them get back on their feet. They’re not alone, and Lora DiCarlo is incredibly proud to stand behind this organization and contribute donations with every single purchase. While it’s never easy to hear difficult and upsetting stories, we may all contribute to the betterment of society where we can, whether through a donation, volunteering time or simply making a pre-planned purchase through a company willing to donate funds.