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With millions of people are spending more time in their homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of sexual assault and domestic violence is on the rise. While the stay-at-home orders implemented in New Hampshire and across the country are crucial to reduce the spread of the virus, it’s also more important than ever that we support those at risk of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The national rate of domestic violence has increased since 2014, making up almost half of all reported violent crime in 2017 and 2018. Over 9,000 adults reported instances of domestic violence in New Hampshire in 2017. It is expected that the number of cases will increase throughout this pandemic. Many countries initially affected by coronavirus saw an influx of calls to domestic violence hotlines approximately 10 days after governments imposed stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. 

State and federal governments have taken some action to support these vulnerable populations: The federal government allotted $45 million for family violence shelters and $2 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package.  In New Hampshire, the governor announced that $600,000 in emergency funds will be given to the 13 domestic violence crisis centers in the state. Nevertheless, we must continue to support survivors and those at risk with all possible resources. Senators Shaheen and Hassan are urging for more domestic violence money in the fourth phase of the coronavirus stimulus package to help aid the important work being done by our crisis centers.

Though we are facing great challenges right now, organizations including The New Hampshire Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (NHCADSV) and local community resource centers are doing everything they can to make sure that those who need help get it. Provider methods are changing, but for the people who work at these centers, providing the services needed is always the priority. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England health centers remain open to serve those who need care, while providing services through telemedicine when possible.

The best thing people can do to support victims of domestic violence is reach out. Whether or not someone is at risk for sexual assault and domestic violence, it helps to know that someone is out there to support them through turbulent times. These are heavily stressful times for everyone, especially those who are experiencing domestic and sexual violence. We need to make sure that once the pandemic passes, domestic violence and sexual assault resources are resilient to any future crisis and will always available for those who need them.

Some resources in New Hampshire for survivors and those at risk include:

Tags: sexual assault, covid-19