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Finding help and helping others during COVID-19

As we remain in our houses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are reminded that “home” is not a safe place for some of our neighbors.  Many families are experiencing significant stressors like unemployment and economic instability, which puts them at greater risk to experience violence.

We know that the isolation that many domestic violence survivors experience will be amplified by social distancing measures. It is important for them to know they are not alone and help is available, even in the middle of this pandemic.

Indiana’s Domestic Violence Programs are open and ready to serve survivors during the COVID-19 outbreak. Advocates at our state’s domestic violence programs are ready to listen to your story and connect you to the best resources and services to help you and your family to feel safe. They specialize in helping families through complicated situations. You can talk with them without feeling afraid or ashamed.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there are a few different ways to get connected to an advocate or local domestic violence program:

  • Call ICADV’s 24-hour, statewide hotline at 800-332-7385
  • Text LOVEIS to 22522
  • Visit thehotline.org and click “Live Chat”
  • Click here to find contact information for the domestic violence program in your community

Indiana’s Domestic Violence programs are considered essential under Governor Holcomb’s Stay-At-Home Order and are ready to provide residential & non-residential services. The ways in which some of those services are provided may look different, but they are working to serve as many survivors as possible while complying with CDC guidelines. A survivor with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 can stay in shelter as long as they follow isolation procedures recommended by health officials and/or program staff.

We also know that the increased risk factors for domestic violence are also risk factors for other forms of violence and mental health struggles:

  • If you suspect child abuse and neglect, contact Indiana’s Child Abuse Hotline at 800-800-5556
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. (Live Chat is also available here) They provide help and resources if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, but also can help with issues related to substance abuse, economic worries, relationships, sexual identity, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and loneliness.

If you suspect a friend, family member or co-worker is in an abusive relationship, you can do your part by starting a conversation, offering non-judgmental support and suggesting ways to get help.

It is important to let the survivor take the lead, and not to pressure them to make decisions. We know that for some survivors it will make sense to separate from the relationship, and for others, it will not. Let them know you’ll be there to help them figure out the best strategies to get through this safely.

  • Ask them how they would prefer to connect: Figure out which communication method will be the safest for them. For instance, is there a specific messaging app they prefer to use?
  • Stay in touch and be creative: Think together about a code word or symbol that would trigger a call from you or to the police. Keep the lines of communication open without directly asking about the abuse, and let them know you are available to talk and help
  • Be supportive and believe in them. Reassure them that they’re not alone and that there is help out there.
  • Understand that leaving an abusive relationship is emotionally complicated and confusing. They will likely experience several fluctuations in motivation to leave.

Click here to learn more about responses to their experiences of violence that survivors told us were helpful and not so helpful.

Our COVID-19 Resource Page has a full section entitled Call Centers and Hotlines where you can find the numbers listed above, along with coronavirus information, unemployment information and financial relief, and more.

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