By Dr. Ludy Green
A woman recently slipped an anonymous note under my front door in Washington, D.C. It said, “Help me” and included only her personal cell number.
I assumed Britney (a pseudonym for her protection) located me through a summer community magazine article featuring my work in domestic violence and child abuse or from a neighborhood referral. I met with Britney on a street corner, both wearing pandemic masks, where she recounted her traumatic story. Since the onslaught of Covid-19, her previously loving and mutually supporting marital relationship had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. She and her son were now living as victims of domestic violence.
As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S., print media and news sources began publishing articles on the uptick in domestic violence cases due to the pandemic. A number of factors have contributed to the rise, including financial troubles, increased family time in closely confined quarters, and inability to engage in usual coping activities, such as exercising, going to the bar, spending time alone or with friends. Reported cases of domestic violence are marked with acute family tensions and violence in many homes.
Despite an estimated increase of cases by around 20% nationwide, in the first few months of stay-at-home orders, many domestic violence shelters reported their phone lines going eerily quiet. The most concerning trend might be the number of cases going unreported as victims, like Britney, currently have limited resources for support and are isolated with their abusers.
In Britney’s case, her husband became increasingly sarcastic and verbally abusive toward the family as his business suffered due to the Covid-19 lock down. He spent most of his time working alone in the basement and gradually developed an estrangement toward his family. One day their young son, missing his father, went down to see him. Britney’s husband became furious and threw a picture frame at the child, injuring him. Britney tried to come to her son’s defense, but her husband punched her, splitting her lip. As a stay-at-home mom with no income and few employment options, especially during the economic downturn and quarantine orders of the pandemic, Britney felt trapped and hopeless.
I realized Britney is not alone in her plight. To speak directly to women and men in socially isolated and potentially dangerous environments, I started a new podcast called Ending Domestic Abuse. The mission of this podcast is to give listeners direct access to relevant and actionable advice from experts, including sitting judges, family law lawyers, medical doctors, psychiatrists, employment coaches, financial advisors, life coaches, and many more. The shows also feature victims sharing their stories about how they overcame domestic violence and rebuilt their lives.
Each episode of Ending Domestic Abuse gives listeners key insights into the barriers victims commonly may face- legal, financial, emotional, etc.- and practical steps in each of these professional disciplines to rise victorious over abuse.
The podcast has featured domestic violence survivors and activists, including best-selling author Leslie Morgan Stanley and Tanya Brown, sister of victim Nicole Brown Simpson. Hearing stories from survivors who have escaped abuse or have dealt with abuse in their family is an essential resource to victims.
Not only does storytelling help the storyteller reexamine and heal from their trauma, it can inspire and serve as a model to those currently suffering from abuse. Many perpetrators manipulate their victim by minimizing and denying the abuse. Therefore, those experiencing domestic violence might be in denial, ashamed, or even blame themselves for breakdown in their relationship. By witnessing fellow victims’ heartbreaking and motivational stories, Ending Domestic Abuse helps listeners stop blaming themselves and begin to reclaim their own self-worth.
Ending Domestic Abuse is designed to be interactive. Listeners can submit stories, questions, and topics for episodes. Experts and survivors featured on the show respond to listeners’ questions, discussing their specific cases and giving advice on how they can navigate the system and find support during Covid-19 social distancing. As one Oregon shelter worried, many victims are unaware of supportive services in their communities, particularly the resources still available during the pandemic.
This podcast may provide a critical first step for the survival of victims and their loved ones in a domestic violence relationship, as well as an important piece in their healing journey.
It is estimated that every minute, 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner. These victims might be your family members, your friends, or even you. Help spread awareness about the Ending Domestic Abuse podcast to ensure it reaches those who need it most.
To listen to episodes, click the links below. To learn more about the podcast, visit: www.ludygreen.com/podcast/
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By Dr. Ludy Green