For the past seven months, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to spend a lot more time indoors as we follow the directive from city leaders to “stay home, save lives.”
But for some, home isn’t always a safe space. Many social service agencies are reporting a spike in domestic violence during the pandemic.
The size of that spike varies. According to Chicago Police Department data from 2011-2018, Black women made up 66% of reported domestic violence cases; Hispanic women made up 20%; and white women, 12%.
While Black women face the highest rates of domestic violence, they might be less likely to seek social services, said Camesha Jones, the founder of Sista Afya, a community wellness group.
“Black women are less likely to seek help for domestic violence and that can be for a variety of reasons: some of the cultural things in our communities like keeping your business to yourselves,” Jones said. “Then also systems that have failed Black women: sometimes when survivors go to police or go to the hospital they’re not treated with care and they’re experiencing a re-victimization by the system.”
Issues of accessing care and fleeing abusive relationships have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, Latinas were paid 47% less than White men, on average, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Now, many have been left jobless and unable to work from home, creating holes in safety nets, said José López, the office director at Mil Mujeres, which offers a number of services to members of the Latino community.
“In some relationships, the abuser has intentionally made it so that the victim is completely dependent on them,” López said. “If [a victim] was saving, all of that will be gone after the coronavirus ends and the savings they put aside to try and leave could all be gone.”