The Pandemic’s Impact On Survivors Of Violence

The full extent of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on our lives may not be fully known for several years. For now, advocates of vulnerable groups are raising awareness of what’s happening in marginalized and vulnerable communities across the globe. 

For survivors of intimate partner violence, the economic effect of the pandemic has caused some to be forced to return to their abuser. 

A report by the Huffington Post stated Black and Latino survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence have been most economically devastated by the pandemic, creating an even more dangerous situation for them. 

The report cited an analysis by MeToo, the organization founded by Tarana Burke who told the publication, “What we found, while sobering, wasn’t shocking.”

“COVID-19 illuminates the ways in which our social and economic safety net catches some while allowing those who are most vulnerable to fall through the cracks,” she added. 

MeToo partnered with FreeForm, an organization centered on intimate partner violence and financial insecurity to create the analysis. 

They found that a female survivor who had access to an average of $3,700 had a higher likelihood of returning to an abuser than a survivor with about $8,300 available. 

Black and Latino women survivors have the highest rates of financial insecurity. According to the report, survivors of color were two times more likely to have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic than white survivors. 

Examining dollar amounts, the report showed that Black and Latino women survivors had access to an average of $1,500, compared to the $9,000 white women survivors had access to. 

“Knowing that Black and brown survivors of sexual assault are also facing a pandemic-related financial crisis is particularly troubling, because too many survivors will be forced to forgo their physical safety because they do not have access to food and safe housing,” Burke stated. 

Before the pandemic, financial abuse was a factor in 99% of abusive relationships, according to a report by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Financial or economic abuse includes anything from withholding access to financial accounts to an abuser sabotaging a job interview. 

The pandemic’s impact on housing security, employment, and healthcare access is also a burden shouldered by survivors of color. 

A large percentage of the essential workforce is made up of women of color. Eight out of 10 of these women said they are experiencing food and housing insecurity. Almost 75% of survivors of color reported they had to stop their educational pursuits because of the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, there is a trend of increased incidences of violence in emergencies. Studies showed a significant increase in intimate partner violence after 9/11, and Hurricane Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina. 

Isolation induced by emergency events leaves survivors vulnerable with resources not readily available to help. 

Given the pattern and evidence of increased violence, advocates demanded additional funding for sexual assault support centers as early as April of this year to support survivors, including children who had been at home with their abusers amid shutdowns. 

To address the needs of so many during the pandemic, Burke recommended legislative measures to secure economic resources for survivors. Burke stated,  

“Survivor communities are the most vulnerable and the most marginalized, and we hope that by interrogating the pandemic’s long-term effects, we can help shape policy discussions and community responses in ways that address the issues and systemic inequities that keep some of us in unsafe situations.” 

The full report by Me Too and FreeForm can be found here

Photo: Getty Images  

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