Housing Insecurity, Financial Abuse Impact Domestic Violence Survivors During COVID-19 Pandemic
For Immediate Release: December 8, 2021 Media Contact: [email protected], (202) 713-5503
AUSTIN, TX– Recognizing the increased safety risks and barriers to assistance that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to survivors, the National Domestic Violence Hotline released a new report documenting what they’ve been hearing directly from people impacted by relationship abuse (via calls, chats and texts) from March 16, 2020, through March 15, 2021—the full first year of the pandemic. The complete report can be found here.
Survivors continued to face unique barriers in the pandemic that put their safety at greater risk, including housing instability, economic impacts, forced isolation— in some cases with their abusive partner, and limited resources for support.
In its analysis of its contact data (calls, chats and texts with advocates), The Hotline found:
- From March 16, 2020, through March 15, 2021, 23,056 contacts to The Hotline specifically cited COVID-19 as a condition of their experience.
- 35% of contacts citing COVID-19 experienced financial abuse, including the partner causing harm monitoring their purchases and/or restricting access to money or employment. This includes taking the survivor’s stimulus check(s).
- Since 2016, housing instability as a contact concern has grown by an average of 20% annually.
- The Hotline saw a 19% increase in requests for individual professional counseling during COVID-19 year over year.
- Since 2016, the mention of children being involved in a survivor’s experience has grown by an average of 5% annually.
While the contact data is useful for understanding the broad impact of the pandemic, The Hotline recognizes the importance of the specific experiences and strength of survivors. The report includes anonymized stories from survivors who contacted The Hotline during the pandemic.
One survivor contacted The Hotline after losing their job due to COVID-19. The survivor was disabled with no transportation and was financially dependent on their partner who is abusive. Their partner would take the survivor’s disability check, as well as their medication. The survivor was working with a local agency for social support, but those services had to close due to COVID-19.
Another survivor wanted to leave with their five children, one of whom has special needs. The partner who is abusive had become increasingly abusive with them since working from home. The survivor was homeschooling their children, and their partner would shut off their Wi-Fi periodically, so it was difficult to reach out for help or create a safety plan.
“When COVID-19 first came into our lives, we knew survivors were in closer proximity to their partner who chose to abuse and likely unable to reach out for support safely. Throughout the pandemic, The Hotline has been a resource, empowering survivors, like the ones whose stories are shared above, to make life-changing decisions with dignity and respect despite the increased challenges, said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “You can also join us in supporting survivors by learning about safety planning, advocating for policies aimed at ending domestic violence and donating to organizations like The Hotline.”
As the pandemic continues into its second year, we know that the risks and harmful impact to survivors only increases. In October 2021, The Hotline experience one of the highest monthly contact volumes in its 25-year history.
If you have any questions about The Hotline’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact The Hotline’s media team at [email protected] or (202) 713-5503.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline envisions a world where all relationships are positive, healthy, and free from violence. If you or someone you know needs help, call The Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to thehotline.org.