ATLANTA — We’ve seen many problems become a bigger issue as a result of this pandemic, like domestic violence.
So we wanted to help.
We know that there are women and their children in their homes emotionally and physically abused more than before.
Victims are trapped with their abuser and they have nowhere to go.
“I was in my marriage for four years before I was able to get out,” said survivor Kimya Motley.
After years of being physically abused by her husband, in Sept. 2011 Motley told him she was leaving. She said that was a mistake and it almost cost her and her daughter their lives.
“When I told him I wanted a divorce, I did so without having a safety plan in place and he met me at my daughter’s day care center,” Motley said.
“He shot me multiple times and he shot my daughter, who was 10 years old at the time, one time in the head,” Motley said.
Motley and her daughter survived. Now she’s an advocate, working to help other women who feel trapped, like she did.
Asked if she could imagine going through her situation now with the pandemic, Motley said she couldn’t and she feels for the women who are going through this right now.
“Not at all, I could not imagine that, and that’s one of the things that immediately pained me when I knew we were about to go into shelter in place,” Motley said. “All I could think about where the women that would be trapped.”
Motley calls sheltering in place an abuser’s paradise.
“Now imagine that he’s with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You have to find clever ways to be able to get in contact with someone else even to let them know you’re going through domestic violence or let them know that you are in danger,” Motley said.
“This is a really, really serious time, obviously, for everybody, but certainly domestic violence victims are at greater risk,” Jan Christiansen, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Christiansen said the stressors of the pandemic, like money problems, can create a dangerous situation for domestic violence victims.
“These kinds of stressors don’t cause domestic violence, but they can certainly add to any type of violence,” Christiansen said.
She’s also worried that victims will not go to the hospital if they are injured by an abuser, or try to escape to a shelter, because they’re scared they’ll contract the virus.
Christiansen said shelters are getting creative to stay open and safe, like moving women who show symptoms in shelters to hotel rooms so they can still work with abuse counselors.
“We have some people who are working through a closed door if you will. Leaving food at their door and being able to check in on them, being able to text with survivors if they can’t see them face to face,” Christiansen said.
And now, not having that face-to-face interaction with friends, family and co-workers can add an extra strain on adult victims and their children who may witness violence or be victims of it.
“We don’t know everything that’s going on and we aren’t able to see them five days a week and say, ‘Oh they look a little different today or their demeanor is different. Let me check in on them,’” said Gwinnett County middle school counselor Laura Ross.
Ross said they’re keeping up with students’ academic and emotional well-being virtually now. That can be hard to do if they’re having problems at home.
“Now it’s virtual but they’re in their homes so if they don’t feel safe in their homes to talk about what’s going on, that creates another barrier to making sure everybody’s doing OK,” Ross aid.
She says Gwinnett County public schools put many resources online for their students, so they can get help.
Motley has an important message for people who are enduring mental and physical abuse and feel trapped.
“I know that you’re feeling overwhelmed right now and you can’t take it anymore, but I need you to hold on,” Motley said. “This is going to end soon enough and you will be able to get out of there safely.”
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