The global headlines regarding victims of domestic violence and the particular dangers they face while “sheltering in place” during the COVID-19 pandemic have been hard to read.
As executive director of A New Direction (AND), I can say that the descriptions in those articles are a reality for our clients and for the many survivors of domestic violence who have not yet reached out for help.
For most of us, our lives have been turned upside down. We cannot go out to eat or to our place of work, and we are worried and anxious about the future; but we are safe in our homes. Victims of domestic violence are not safe in the one place they should always feel safe.
About a week ago, a friend from college sent me a message about her younger brother’s girlfriend, and I will refer to the girlfriend as “Jane.”
My friend was distraught in writing to me.
“Jane is unfortunately mourning the loss of her mother. Her mother was tragically murdered, in her home, by her husband, during this horrible pandemic.”
I was speechless and immediately moved to tears.
My friend reached out to me because she didn’t know what else to do. She knew I worked in the domestic-violence profession, and she hoped that I could talk to Jane.
But, how could I help? What could I say or do that could possibly take the excruciating pain away from this young woman?
I am not a service provider, nor a mental-health professional. I decided to put aside my fear of what I would say or do, and I called Jane.
She needed someone to listen to her. Jane wanted to talk about what an amazing person her mother was. Jane was sad, scared, angry, frustrated, confused and upset. She was regretful, concerned and anxious.
Most of all, she was resolute.
She wants to make sure that another daughter, mother, sister, aunt, cousin or friend does not have to receive the news that she received. She wants to help prevent violence and, of course, domestic homicide.
We talked for a long time; I mostly listened.
When Jane said she wanted to give back and help prevent this from happening to another person, I suggested she reach out to a domestic-violence agency in California, where she lives (her mother was murdered in Michigan). I reassured her that when the time is right, when she is ready to become an advocate, there will be an agency available to partner with her.
She wanted to share her story, to help stop domestic violence, and that is why I am telling it today.
COVID-19 is causing unimaginable pain to domestic-violence victims, survivors and their families, and we must help!
If you are able, please help us help survivors of domestic violence today by donating to AND. Any amount will help us continue to fulfill our mission to provide counseling, education, advocacy and support to individuals and families affected by domestic violence.
Stay healthy and safe!