Across the country, officials have encouraged residents to stay home to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. But for domestic violence victims – the vast majority of whom are women, children, and LGTBQ+ individuals – home is not a safe space. In rural communities especially, women are 10% more likely to experience abusive relationships, and less likely to report it.
“Domestic violence hasn’t decreased; the Stay at Home order made it harder for people to reach out for help when their abuser is with them at all times,” explains Courtney Griffith, director of rural strategy. “Stay at Home orders isolate people from COVID-19, but it also means victims are isolated with their abusers.”
Part of ensuring survivors can reach out for help is normalizing those services and resources. As the only domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center in Preble County, YWCA Dayton responds to more than 600 hotline calls in Preble County each year.
One fast way to reach those who might need help? Meet them where they are – even if that’s their front door. This spring, more than 100 crisis hotline fliers were included on food boxes from Papa John’s Pizza in Eaton, Ohio.
“With the lockdown, we knew there could be an increase in domestic violence cases that could go undetected. We wanted to help YW get the word out to call or reach out if they are in danger,” said Amanda Wilson, an Eaton business owner who helped coordinate the flier partnership. Flier distribution is a fast, efficient way to get a message across, she said, and has used the tactic before through Bombshell Tanning and Preble Edge Fitness for various events, free community meals, and recognizing local heroes.
“We have to give a huge thank you to Amanda and Eaton Papa John’s for helping us provide this vital information to our community,” Griffith said. “It is really important for us to find creative ways to get our hotline information in the hands of those who may need it. With shelter in place, so many people are in their home with their abuser and have no way of reaching out or getting the resources they need. This allows them to see our hotline number, and crisis email, in a neutral way so they can reach out for assistance. That’s so important.”