“Safer at Home.” It’s a slogan of choice for the mandatory confinement measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. But it’s not true for everyone.
As the world’s families hunker down, there’s another danger, less obvious but just as insidious, that worries advocates and officials: a potential spike in domestic violence as victims spend day and night trapped at home with their abusers, with tensions rising, nowhere to escape, limited or no access to friends or relatives — and no idea when it will end.
“An abuser will use anything in their toolbox to exert their power and control, and COVID-19 is one of those tools,” said Crystal Justice, who oversees development at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a 24/7 national hotline in the United States. In cities and towns everywhere, concern is high, and meaningful numbers are hard to come by. In some cases, officials worry about a spike in calls, and in others, about a drop in calls, which might indicate that victims cannot find a safe way to reach out for help.
In Los Angeles, officials have been bracing for a spike in abuse. “When cabin fever sets in, give it a week or two, people get tired of seeing each other and then you might have domestic violence,” said Alex Villanueva, the sheriff of Los Angeles County.
“One of the key challenges of this health pandemic is that home isn’t a safe place for everyone,” said Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, based in Chicago. “Victims and the abusers have to stay at the scene of the crime.”
Similar concerns have arisen in hard-hit continental Europe. In France, “it’s an explosive cocktail,” says Nathalie Tomasini, a leading lawyer for domestic violence victims there. Being trapped in an apartment with an abusive partner, she said, is akin to “a prison with no open window.”
In addition to intimate partner violence, concerns have also been raised about child abuse. In jurisdictions everywhere, the chief worry is not only that coronavirus tensions could trigger more abuse, but that with kids out of school, more cases could go unreported or unnoticed.
“If kids are not at school, those reports aren’t getting made,” said Jessica Seitz, public policy director for the advocacy group Missouri Kids First. “That’s really a crack in the system.”
Without educators in place, “We really need neighbors to check on next-door children and children in the neighborhood,” said Tom Rawlings, director of Georgia state’s Divisionof Family and Children Services.
Back at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is based in Austin, Texas but has staff working remotely now, advocates are urging people in potentially risky situations to use the more discreet chat and text options available on their Web site, and to formulate a personal safety plan. This could include setting up a standing call with relatives or establishing a code phrase to signal an emergency.
為遏止冠狀病毒傳播而頒布的禁足令，選用「Safer at Home」（待在家更安全）作為口號，以強制民眾待在家。然而，待在家裡並非對每個人來說都會更安全。
「這種大流行病的主要挑戰之一是，家裡並非對每個人來說都是安全的地方」，芝加哥「網絡：反家暴倡議」（The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence）的執行董事阿曼達‧派蓉說道。「受害者與施暴者只能待在犯罪現場」。
倡議團體「密蘇里州兒童優先組織」（Missouri Kids First）的公共政策主任潔西卡‧塞茲表示：「如果孩子們不在學校，這些案件就不會被通報」。「這真是系統的漏洞」。
FOLLOW UP 讀後練習
1. Which groups of people are particularly at risk of domestic violence? What could be the mindset of the abusers?
2. Why could confinement measures lead to an increase in domestic violence?
3. If you are concerned that your neighbors/relatives/friends are exposed to the risk of domestic violence, what could you do for them?
4. If you are in danger of domestic violence, what should you do??
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. confinement measure phr.
(jin4 zu2 ling4)
2. domestic violence phr.
(jia1 ting2 bao4 li4; jia1 bao4)
3. victim n.
(shou4 hai4 zhe3)
4. trapped adj.
(xian4 ru4 kun4 jing4 de5)
5. abuser n.
(shi1 bao4 zhe3)
6. cocktail n.
(hun4 he2 wu4; ji1 wei2 jiu3)
7. child abuse phr.
(nue4 dai4 er2 tong2)
8. discreet adj.
(bu4 yin3 ren2 zhu4 yi4 de5; mi4 mi4 de5)
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