It’s safe to say that many of us today are consumed with COVID—how not to get sick, how to get people vaccinated, how to keep kids safely in school, how to reopen businesses and how to recognize and treat mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
What I have not heard spoken about in any meaningful way is domestic violence. In fact, the very steps that we have taken to prevent the spread of the virus—quarantines, stay-at-home orders, school closures, economic shutdowns and working remotely—have often created new occasions for abuse. Months of unpaid rent, mounting bills, increased consumption of alcohol, sickness and isolation have not only caused instances of abuse to escalate, but these same factors have contributed to the feeling of helplessness that many victims experience. In much of the world, shelters and legal services are limited or nonexistent. If they do exist, they are likely to be overstretched and under-resourced. In some parts of the world, the United Nations is calling this a “shadow pandemic.”
While men and boys suffer, women and girls are more often the victims, and LGBTQ and nonbinary people are at a heightened risk. Women in marginalized groups, such as refugees, are even more likely to feel helpless.
In the past, the number of domestic violence incidents in the United States was determined largely from police reports. More recent reliance on police call logs, domestic violence crime reports, emergency hotline registries, health records reports, court cases, calls to hotlines, occupancy in shelters and opinion surveys provide a more accurate picture. Last year, according to analysis released by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ), every form of data relied upon showed overwhelming evidence of an increase in domestic violence after stay-at-home orders were issued. But because domestic violence often goes underreported due to fear, the sensitivity of the topic, and the shame that victims carry, the figures are considered underestimates, and the pandemic has made getting accurate data a challenge. Lockdowns have also trapped more survivors with their abusers, making it more difficult to report incidents or have others intervene, further contributing to this shadow pandemic.
Many of the instances of domestic violence occur in the presence of children. Quite often those outside of the family don’t know what is going on, and it is often difficult to know how best to intervene. And unfortunately, the reality is that in many cases, meaningful intervention occurs only after a child has endured direct and continued exposure to violence.
The effects on children who have witnessed domestic violence experience are far-reaching: insomnia, bed-wetting, verbal, motor and cognitive issues, depression, learning difficulties and aggressive, antisocial and self-harming behaviors. As if that were not enough, studies have found evidence of much higher rates of pro-violence attitudes, rigid stereotypical gender beliefs involving male privilege, bullying, animal abuse, assault and property destruction.
An adverse childhood experiences study led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified exposure to domestic violence as one of several adverse childhood experiences contributing to poor quality of life, premature death and risk factors for many of the most common causes of death in the United States. Obviously, children who experience physical and sexual abuse themselves are at the greatest risk for emotional and psychological problems. And while children develop coping strategies and other protective factors that may mitigate the worst impacts, I think we can all agree that it would be better to not have to rely on them.
There were early warning signs of this shadow pandemic, and those who were aware of the issue were asking for help. Initially, coronavirus relief packages offered programs targeting women, but very few of them covered domestic violence. Eventually, as many shifted to remote work, new measures were adopted to support victims of domestic violence. They included online services, the establishment of alert systems for reporting domestic violence at food stores and pharmacies, the provision of hotel accommodation where shelters are full, telemedicine for reproductive health care at home, economic support for domestic workers and low-income earners who have stopped working, extended paid leave for parents of children with disabilities, free childcare and temporary housing for poor women, “e-justice” services and psychological and legal counseling.
The pandemic was also an impetus for the police in some areas to try harder to reach women. Even in a time when there has been pressure to defund the police, some departments ramped up responses to hotline calls and WhatsApp and Facebook messages, platforms they previously had not prioritized.
But as the virus keeps resurging, so do the problems. Training new hires via Zoom has not been easy. Many courts are either closed or operating at reduced hours, and while many are adapting by switching to the use of new online technology to hear cases remotely, submitting necessary paperwork online has proved challenging, especially for those women with low socioeconomic status. Access to technology is often limited, and the opportunity for victims to safely make a phone call or use any other form of digital communication to report violence and seek help is particularly compromised if they share residence with a perpetrator. It’s too soon to know whether protection orders have been easily accessible and adequately adapted to the COVID-19 context including access to e-protection orders and e-emergency orders online and ex parte that could order a perpetrator to vacate the residence or prohibit the perpetrator from entering the residence or contacting the victim.
The Violence against Women Act, a landmark piece of legislation first made law in 1994, has been reauthorized a few times, most recently in 2013, but it expired in 2018, and while funding has been continued, provisions added at the instigation of advocates and survivors at each iteration have not been addressed. They are waiting in the wings to add provisions that would include greater access to emergency housing, addressing the ability of perpetrators to purchase firearms and providing services based on differing cultural norms and resources.
Media outlets have been helpful in raising public awareness about domestic violence in the context of COVID-19 and the importance of support for victims as a part of the national COVID-19 response. But regardless, as long as domestic violence remains the leading cause of physical injury to women—more than car accidents and muggings combined—much more attention is still needed. Domestic abuse should be understood as a cause and consequence of inequality, and abuse remains a choice by the abuser and cannot be excused by external factors, no matter what those circumstances may be.
We should acknowledge that victims continue to feel shame, not unlike many victims of sexual assault, as though somehow they contributed to their situation or encouraged it. As a society, we have an opportunity and responsibility to inject resiliency through academic, emotional and social support. We must all grapple with whether there are ways we might more effectively intervene within our families, schools, and communities to initiate help and healing. The numbers reported are underestimates and the increase we see is very likely the floor, not the ceiling.
So as we come back from our holiday celebrations, a little fatter and ever grateful for everything we enjoy, whether we do go back to stay-at-home orders or continue our recovery, let each of us think not just about how the pandemic has impacted home schooling, billable hours, remote jury trials and depositions. Domestic violence is pernicious and insidious; it cuts across all demographics; it has negative long term consequences for the children who witness it and devastating effects on those who experience it directly. It’s not too late to make addressing this shadow pandemic part of everyone’s New Year’s resolution.
Joette Katz is a partner at Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford, where she focuses her practice on business litigation. She is a former Connecticut Supreme Court justice and commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. She currently co-chairs the Connecticut Law Tribune Editorial Board.
SOUTHINGTON, CT — The Main Street Community Foundation recently awarded a total of $474,258 in grants from the Bradley Henry Barnes & Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust to 13 nonprofit organizations “working to support the health and well-being of Southington residents.”
The grants awarded are:
- The Arc of Southington – $5,900 – Repair and rebuild the handicap accessible ramp and landing at the entrance to the main office building
- Bread For Life – $78,000 – Meal program for Southington’s food-insecure population, including support for rising food-related costs
- Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington – $27,500 – Health, safety and well-being educational programs for young children and their caregivers.
- Friends of Southington Community Services – $30,000 – Food, fuel assistance and other basic needs for low-income residents
- LiveWell Alliance, Inc. – $55,000 – “Empowering Partnership Network” as well as the development of programs for people living with dementia through the Center for Resilient Living
- Prudence Crandall Center Inc. – $45,000 – COVID-19 recovery relief and services for Southington victims of domestic violence and their children
- Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs – $100,000 – COVID-19 recovery relief support of programs and operations
- Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs – $31,434 – Community collaboration with the YMCA, Southington Public Schools and Southington Police Department to purchase and install “Stop the Bleed” kits in public locations
- Southington Community Cultural Arts – $50,000 –All Access program for adults with disabilities and those living with dementia
- Southington Education Foundation – $15,000 – Materials, supplies and licenses to enhance the “RULER” initiative for social/emotional learning in the Southington public schools
- Southington Manna Fund, Inc. – $5,000 – Emergency housing for temporarily displaced Southington residents
- United Way of Southington – $28,424 –Senior Transportation Services program, which offers free rides to Southington seniors to medical appointments, pharmacy, banks and care facilities
An additional $3,000 was provided to long-term care facilities – LiveWell Alliance and Southington Care Center – for patient assistance funds for financially disadvantaged residents.
‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’ has little meaning to victims of domestic violence, but there is help in area for those in need
Author: Erica Drzewiecki; New Britain Herald
Published: April 22, 2020
When home is where the hurt is, ‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’ has little meaning.
Luckily, for victims of domestic violence, there are still open shelters and resources available, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We continue to be on the front lines as our service is open and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Barbara Damon, executive director of the Prudence Crandall Center.
The organization provides emergency shelter, transitional and supportive housing to victims of domestic violence hailing from New Britain and Bristol, and towns in between, including Southington, Plainville, Berlin and even as far as Plymouth.
Staff has remained on-site in Prudence Crandall’s emergency shelter and others working remotely continue to provide counseling over the phone, by video chat and email.
“We’re finding that the greatest increase in need right now has been for help with basic food and supplies and funding to meet monthly expenses,” Damon pointed out. “So many of our folks we serve have either lost a job or lost their childcare and are really struggling right now.”
Families living in Prudence Crandall’s shelter have separate bedrooms and can safely distance themselves. Other survivors have remained in housing at undisclosed locations and some are staying in hotels for the time being.
“This is a time filled with anxiety and stress for all of us, but particularly those experiencing the trauma of abuse,” Damon pointed out. “There is a lot of need for emotional support and counseling at this time.”
Prudence Crandall’s most pressing need right now is financial.
The organization’s annual fundraising dinner was postponed along with all other large group gatherings and events. Unforeseen expenses due to the novel coronavirus have also posed a challenge.
“Every year we rely on the community to fund about 30 percent of our operating budget,” Damon explained. “We need to raise $650,000 to meet our current needs. We need the community now more than ever.”
The center has received donations of face masks and meal deliveries. Monetary donations are strongly encouraged at prudencecrandall.org.
Other agencies that help victims include the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV). CEO Karen Jarmoc was one of several panelists to speak during a virtual conference this week.
When the pandemic began in early March, Jarmoc said, domestic violence shelters were already at 130 percent capacity across Connecticut.
The CCADV runs CTSafeConnect.org, an online resource where victims of violence can seek help. It’s being utilized even more now that victims are forced to be at home, Jarmoc said.
A bright spot in this pandemic: for people who need to file a restraining order, it is now possible online.
Thanks to an April 3 ruling by the Honorary Michael Albis, the state’s chief administrative judge of family matters, restraining orders can be filed remotely at https://jud.ct.gov/remote_restrain.htm.
In this time of crisis, advocates are still available to help 24/7 at CTSafeConnect. All services are confidential, safe, free and voluntary. Call 888-774-2900.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.
Earlier this year, the government shutdown impacted vital funding to Prudence Crandall Center, high-lighting the importance of private donations to sustain the agency’s vital services for victims of domestic violence. One local couple has decided to challenge others to join them in making that happen.
The Bright Futures Giving Society is currently comprised of 28 community members who pledge $1,000 a year or more (through monthly, quarterly or annual gifts) over five years, providing a vital foundation of annual support that is used to bridge funding gaps in services agency-wide.
This year’s Celebrating Hope breakfast will be held Friday, May 31st, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bristol. The event’s Presenting Sponsor is once again the Petit Family Foundation, which has generously sponsored the agency’s signature fund-raising events for over a decade. For information about sponsorships or the Leflers’ Leadership Challenge, please contact Carolyn Jasper, Development Director, at (860)259-3817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contribute, please click below:
Nationwide, 1 in 3 teens reports being physically, sexually or emotionally hurt by their partner. According to the CT Department of Public Health, 17% of CT high school students report being emotionally abused by a dating partner and 8% report being physically abused by a dating partner (2011 School Health Survey Youth Risk Behavior Report). And early exposure to abusive or violent relationships increases the likelihood of those types of relationships being repeated later in life.
Communicating with young people
about dating violence
is the first step in ending abuse.
WHAT IS TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Teen Dating Violence (TDV) is a pattern of abusive behavior in a dating relationship where one partner uses power in an attempt to control and coerce the other. TDV can occur in opposite sex or same-sex relationships regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, education or socio-economic status.
TDV can take many forms including:
- Physical, such as hitting, slapping, punching and shoving.
- Verbal, emotional and/or psychological such as public or private name calling or put-downs, exhibiting extreme jealousy or preventing their partner from seeing family or friends.
- Sexual, including coercing your partner to have sex when she/he is not ready, demanding sexual photos or using date rape drugs.
- Technological, such as tracking someone using GPS on a mobile device, monitoring someone’s text messages or emails without their knowledge or permission, or sending threatening or harassing messages via social media.
FACTS ON TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Teen dating violence is not an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day. Dating violence is a pattern of violent behavior that someone uses against their partner to gain control.
- About 72% of students in 8th and 9th grade report “dating” by the time they are in high school, 54% of students report dating violence among their peers.
- About one in 11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating violence each year.
- About one in four teens report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual violence each year.
- About one in five teens reports being a victim of emotional abuse.
- About one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- About 70% of girls and 52% of boys who are victims of dating violence report an injury from a violent relationship.
- Approximately 8% of boys and 9% of girls have been to an emergency room for an injury received from a dating partner.
- Adolescents who experience dating violence not only are at increased risk for injury, but are also more likely to report binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting, and sexual activity.
- Rates of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use are more than twice as high in girls who report physical dating violence or sexual abuse than in girls who report no violence.
81% of parents believe teen dating
violence is not an issue or admit
they don’t know if it is an issue.
It is important to understand the warning signs for dating violence so you can help teens develop healthy relationship attitudes and behaviors/
These “red flags” should alert you to the possibility that a teen may be a victim or is at risk of becoming victim of dating violence:
- Suspicious bruises, scratches, or other injuries
- Failing grades
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable
- Alcohol or drug use
- Extreme mood swings
- Excuses their dating partner’s behavior
- Fearfulness around their dating partner or when his or her name is mentioned
- Avoidance of friends and social events
- Does not go out without their partner
Take teens seriously when they talk
about their dating relationships and
ask for clarification if needed.
What can you do to help end Teen Dating Violence?
It’s critical that teens have access to information about healthy dating behaviors and warning signs that their relationship might be abusive. CCADV’s mobile app, td411, does just that. td411 provides essential information to teens in a manner that makes sense for them – through their phone or mobile device. The app answers questions that they may be too afraid to ask and includes interactive tools to help them learn about their relationship and to connect with a counselor if they need someone to talk to. Encourage teens to download td411 so they have it readily accessible in case they or one of their friends needs help.
td411 lets you…
- Learn healthy behaviors for dating relationships and the signs of abusive behaviors
- Take the Dating Quiz to see where your relationship falls
- Check out important safety tips and ways that you can stay safe
- Use the search function to find the nearest counselor
Wear orange on Friday’s during February. Post your images on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to show your support and raise awareness. #TDVAM #PCC_CT
Send your photos to email@example.com so we can share them on our Facebook page!
The West Hartford Women’s Chorale will sponsor their annual Festival of Women’s Voices on March 30th at 4:30 PM in the Auditorium of Conard High School, West Hartford. This special concert features special guest composer Kathleen Allen, Glastonbury High School Treble Choir, Voce di Coeli Hall High School, Another Octave: Connecticut Women’s Chorus, and West Hartford Women’s Chorale.
This is the sixth “Festival of Women’s Voices” hosted by the West Hartford Women’s Chorale. The festival involves student and adult choirs performing various pieces of music including those of a female composer, who is invited to conduct a workshop with each group prior to the performance.
The proceeds from each Festival Concert are earmarked for an organization that helps women and girls in the Hartford area. This year the recipient will be the Prudence Crandall Center, which has been providing comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence since 1973.
In January 2004, 14 women, who shared a love of music, were inspired to form a women’s chorale in West Hartford, to enrich the local community’s cultural life. Fifteen years later the West Hartford Women’s Chorale is now a group of almost 100 women from all over the Greater Hartford area conducted by Dr. Ethan Nash and accompanied by Barbara Robbins.
From its inception, the Chorale has focused on enriching its members and the surrounding communities through the enjoyment of music. All women who love to sing are encouraged to join the chorale, without requiring previous musical experience. At the same time, this non-audition group performs a variety of challenging classical, jazz, and popular musical pieces, providing a supportive, learning environment for both the chorale’s members and its audiences at several community events, as well as its own stand-alone concerts.
The Chorale also supports musical education in the community by providing an annual scholarship to a graduating senior from the area’s Public Schools. It has provided young artists performance opportunities, as well as raising funds for charitable organizations.
For more information visit www.WHWChorale.orgRead More
Thank you to The Mary Kay Foundation for our $20,000 grant! These funds will help us continue to maintain critical services and programs for domestic violence survivors in Connecticut!
The Mary Kay Foundation was created in 1996 and its two-fold mission includes funding women’s cancer research and ending domestic violence. Over the course of more than two decades, The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded more than $78 million to women’s shelters and domestic violence service providers, as well as cancer research programs and related causes throughout the United States. To learn more about The Mary Kay Foundation and its mission, visit marykayfoundation.org or call 1-877-MKCARES (652-2737).Read More
For the third year in a row, Papa’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM is having a ‘Fill the Van’ donation drive to support Prudence Crandall Center! The outpouring of support from their staff and customers has been amazing, resulting in the delivery of a van-load (or two!) for our families just in time for the holidays.
The donations, gifts and household essentials that are collected help our families get established as they begin new lives, free from violence. Many of the essentials are also used to welcome victims and families into our emergency shelter every year. Too often, individuals and families fleeing an abusive home leave most of their belongings behind. And for low-income families facing a time of crisis, the holidays can be particularly stressful. These donations let them know that the community supports them, and they are not alone, as they make that brave first step towards a safe and brighter future.
The donation drive will run until December 17.
Make sure to follow us on Facebook to see the big delivery arrive on December 18th!Read More
You can spread the word to prevent domestic violence!
Join our “Dress Down and Go Purple” campaign and help raise awareness at your school, work, or place of worship. We’ll provide you with brochures, posters, warning signs cards, and handouts.
You pick the day and encourage everyone to wear purple!
Let’s get talking and take a stand – together, let’s end the violence!
For information contact 860-259-3820 or firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More