Richmond, VA — March 25, 2020—As the public health crisis around COVID-19 quickly changes the way people are interacting with each other and the government calls for physical distancing to slow community spread, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (Action Alliance) is acutely aware that survivors of violence face unique challenges at this time.
“For survivors of recent or ongoing sexual and intimate partner violence, being home may not be the safest place, particularly as people are financially and emotionally stressed,” said Action Alliance Executive Director Kristi VanAudenhove. “Moreover, those who experience harm and those who cause harm, including violence, are physically cutoff from others who can provide emotional support that reduces abuse – such as addiction recovery groups, access to a gym, and friends.”
Additionally, physical distancing and the related economic and social impact have illustrated the gaps in our federal and state support systems — a lack of economic justice for low-wage workers and hourly workers, a lack of paid sick leave to care for one’s own health or that of a loved one, and gaps in affordable childcare, to name a few.
“With all of these stressors, we are going to see an increased need for services for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence,” added VanAudenhove. “This is a trend seen in the aftermath of other natural disasters such as hurricanes, in which abusers have increased access to those they hurt. In fact, the number of calls to the Statewide Hotline have already increased by more than 30% these past couple of weeks.”
Advocates at the Action Alliance and at local agencies throughout the state are here for survivors. The Statewide Hotline is operational and continues to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you are a survivor or a concerned family member or friend in need of support or help with planning for safety, please contact the Statewide Hotline:
Advocates are also available through community hotlines and they are providing innovative mobile advocacy services and virtual support groups. Domestic violence shelters are continuing to provide emergency shelter to survivors and are also helping survivors to find safe housing in their communities or to travel to be with family where they will receive care and support.
What can you do to help? Donate today!
Our local agencies need financial support. There are unexpected costs for preparing for and enduring this pandemic, as well as potential lost revenue due to canceled fundraisers.
- Please donate to your local shelters and agencies who are on the front lines offering support to survivors. Here’s a map of agencies in Virginia that includes their websites, where you can donate directly.
- Contribute to The RISE Fund, set up by the Action Alliance Governing Body specifically to support survivor advocacy agencies during times of crisis and disaster. The Rise Fund makes grants of up to $1,000 to member sexual and domestic violence agencies impacted by a crisis such as this pandemic. These funds are available to meet unexpected needs such as direct aid to survivors, or in this case, safety and technology costs that are not covered by grant funds.
Interested in reading more?
The Action Alliance has compiled a list of resources for our agencies, advocates, and the general public that deal with issues around responding to COVID-19 in our communities. We hope these not only provide needed information, but also help center disability justice, community care, and trauma-informed care in our response to this situation.
About the Action Alliance
The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance is Virginia’s leading voice on sexual and intimate partner violence. A diverse group of individuals and organizations, the Action Alliance believes that ALL people have the right to a life free of sexual and domestic violence.