Eva Lessinger has dedicated more 12 years helping victims of domestic violence and trauma healing. Eva is a social worker by training and presently serves as the Director of Programs at the New Orleans Family Justice Center, a multidisciplinary agency dedicated to addressing interpersonal violence and trauma.
During this pandemic there are stay at home orders in 90 countries around the world, which have resulted in putting many in peril from an abuser. While it’s hard to track, we know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will experience some form of intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence or stalking in their lifetime. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of gender-based violence takes place in the home. Being isolated both due to stay at home orders or economic hardship can create a dangerous situation. Recently Rihanna teamed up with Twitter/Square CEO Jack Dorsey to help domestic violence survivors during the time of COVID-19 and beyond to help publicize this issue.
Common as this dangerous situation may be, both physical and emotional violence in intimate relationships often goes undetected; secrecy and shame cause many to suffer in silence, which enables the cycle of abuse to continue. If you, your children or an elder are in an unsafe situation there are resources for you.
Call or text 911 for emergency shelter or other housing resources. Police have not stopped responding to domestic violence.
HOW YOU CAN HELP SOMEONE WHO IS A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Experts agree that one simple thing you can do is to be a source of unconditional love for the victim. It’s important that your friend comes to their own conclusions about what to do and whether to leave. Remaining someone they can talk to, and offering them support and resources should they want to make a change, are some of the best things you can do in this difficult situation. At the same time, be mindful of your own safety.
MAKE AN ESCAPE PLAN
If you are being abused, look for patterns of behavior in your abuser; keep a log to track abusive behaviors. Find places or routines that can provide you comfort, privacy, and grounding. Fighting back could get you in more trouble or injured – it’s often safer to find a way out if you feel abuse escalating. Whether you are currently trapped with an abuser or have already left but they continue to abuse, take these steps and think about a safety plan for you and/or your children if the situation escalates.
Consider which rooms are the safest in your house and which exits you can take if you need to escape.
Keep important numbers or notes such as addresses written down on paper (not just in your phone).
Pack a bag with copies of important documents and extra clothes, and keep it somewhere private like the trunk of car or a friend’s house.
Tell at least one trusted friend, neighbor, or family member that you need support. Create a code word with this person and tell them your plans. Ask them if you can stay a few nights with them if necessary (as shelter services can be a bit limited due to COVID-19).
I NEED HELP STAYING SAFE IN MY HOME
Advocates are available 24/7 to provide support, help create safety plans, and connect you to local resources.
If you’re in an emergency situation, please call or text 911.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522
Louisiana Domestic Violence Hotline: call 1-888-411-1333
New Orleans Family Justice Center (NOFJC): call 504-866-9554 (24-7 Hot Line) or 504-592-4005 ( Mon-Fri 8:30AM-5PM)
I NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION AND TELECOUNSELING OPTIONS
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, like a fever, shortness of breath, or a cough, contact your primary care physician or the Louisiana Department of Health hotline at 1-855-523-2652.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911.
If you have experienced a physical or sexual assault, University Medical Center (UMC) can provide you with ER services and a forensic medical exam. Please go to University Medical Center’s emergency room to receive services. The Hope Clinic, located in the New Orleans Family Justice Center is also providing forensic exams for survivors on a case by case basis. Contact the Hope Clinic at (504) 592-4005 for more information.
Keep Calm Through COVID: call 1-866-310-7977
SAHMSA Disaster Distress Line: call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TALKWITHUS” to 66746
Center for Hope Family Services: call 504-241-6006
I NEED LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) are still being processed at this time. Contact the NOFJC for assistance with filing for a TRO. If you are worried about evictions or paying rent due to COVID-19, contact Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) at 1-844-244-7871.