Human rights groups have named it the “shadow pandemic.” Aid organizations are scared for the well-being and survival of victims of family violence. Prosecutors worry that they will not receive help and domestic abusers will not be brought to justice.
As the shelter in place order aims to slow the spread of COVID-19, an unintended but alarming consequence has emerged: adults and children suffering from abuse in the home find themselves trapped with their abuser, unable to report to and seek safety from the people and places they normally go.
To combat this unique risk to victims of domestic violence and child abuse during COVID-19, the elected District Attorneys of San Diego, Alameda, and Sacramento Counties and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California worked together and with Facebook to create a digital public awareness campaign aimed at reaching out to both adult and child victims of interpersonal violence, including a Facebook Live panel presentation that streamed on Friday, July 10, and is available to watch here. The information and insights they provide will aim to help anyone who is suffering violence in the home or to anyone who fears for a loved-one. This conversation may very well save a life.
The public awareness messages are visible on Facebook and other social media platforms; a new post made visible each day for two weeks provides information on resources, helplines, and services vital to reporting abuse and escaping the violence. A 60 second video visible on Facebook has reached more than 33,400 people in San Diego County and 136,971 people state-wide over the initial four-day period of airing.
The campaign also offers information for concerned friends, family or teachers on how someone can help to protect a loved-one who is confined in the same spaces with their abuser for prolonged periods of time due to COVID-19, limiting privacy and exacerbating threats to their safety. Tools available through social media provide opportunities to reach both victims and witnesses of this abuse with support and guidance on how to get help.