(WEHT) – The coronavirus pandemic has families staying home and spending more time together. Researchers with Johns Hopkins School of Nursing say if domestic violence is already a problem in a relationship, the pandemic might actually make it worse. Eyewitness News Noah Alatza was joined by family safety expert Rania Mankarious.
Thank you so much for your time tonight. We appreciate it.
RANIA: Thank you for having me.
NOAH: So let’s get right into it. Do you think the pandemic is causing more domestic violence?
RANIA: Absolutely. And it’s not just my thoughts, statistics show it across this country in major cities, we’re seeing an increase anywhere from 6% to 35%. of an increase in domestic violence. And and this is after years of a little bit of a downward trend. But it makes sense that it’s on the rise, given the realities of those stuck at home with an abuser.
NOAH: And what makes physical abuse more of a risk during the pandemic.
RANIA: Well, it actually follows what’s going on one, an abuser needs control. They have control over their victim, the control over their spouse, the children in the home, the animals in the home, the finances, the communication. But the very nature of this pandemic has created a loss of control for many of us, many of us have lost our jobs. We can’t go out and do the things we wanted to do. relationships have changed. life has changed as we know it. So that frustration is being exasperate exacerbated at home. Think about the children that are at home that used to be at school, a job that you used to have that you no longer have the financial stress of the loss of interaction between others, everything has changed. And it’s created a perfect storm for a victim that normally could have walked out the door and seeing colleagues at work, maybe their doctor during a routine exam. They’re their children’s coach, a teacher who could ask what’s going on? All that’s gone, it’s gone. And it’s left victims alone in situations where all the tools they needed for help are gone. And that’s a problem.
NOAH: Right. Well, there have been some studies suggesting that alcohol uses up as well. Do you think this could lead to more domestic violence incidents?
RANIA: Absolutely. The mix of alcohol and drugs, again, with the loss of all the other issues that we’ve discussed, the increasing frustration and anxiety absolutely creates this perfect storm for abuse. And that’s what studies have shown. So the fact that we’re seeing this play out in real time and reality in homes across America shouldn’t be surprising. But it’s a conversation we must have and look at solutions.
NOAH: And what are some warning signs that people could look out for?
RANIA: loss of communication, obviously, you know, our colleagues may no longer be at work together or friend groups might be changing. But can you pick up the phone and call one another? is this? Is this person able to call back? I mean, people are getting back to some type of normalcy? Is this person able to meet you for coffee or meet for lunch or or just any type of social interaction? Kids? Are they out and about? Or are they staying at home? If they aren’t home? Are they constantly having to mute their mics because there might be some type of altercation at home, that’s embarrassing to them. Or they may be not showing up for their virtual class, because the home situation is too much for them. There are a lot of different things to look out for. And as a community, it’s important not to create ultimatums to tell a victim you know, leave or else Or else we won’t stand by you. But to get involved in a safe way and help this victim create a strategic plan to get out of the situation that they’re in.
NOAH: And RANIA, were talking about earlier there, obviously the pandemic keeping people home and away from their friends. Where could people find some support then?
RANIA: Well, you know, we it’s interesting, one of the things we’re calling upon the cities is to make sure that all homes all communities have access to broadband Internet services. So these victims at home, can research can reach out, in worst case scenarios victims are calling 911. and law enforcement is responding. We just have to make sure that communities counties cities aren’t looking at this narrative that they don’t want to hold anybody you know, we’ve seen across the country, people are saying we can’t we can’t take more any more inmates in we’re afraid of COVID outbreaks. Well, when you releasing people back into the community, we’ve got to be careful that we’re not releasing these abusers that just go right back home and further victimize the victims that just got health. So it’s important that mental health experts, you know, doctors, physician nurses, that they still have access to their patients, whether through direct visits or telemedicine that law enforcement can get to a victim and actually make an arrest and separated family that there are broadband services that shelters have access where they don’t that cities come together to create emergency housing that Lyft Uber third party carriers are available for free for victims. There are a lot of things that can be done in a lot of cities are doing these making these changes.
NOAH: Well, such great inside for us tonight. Family Safety expert RANIA MANKARIOUS Thank you so much.
RANIA: Thank you for having me.