Resources for Those Quarantined With an Abuser
*Please note that the Santa Clara County Family Justice Center is still accepting ex-parte applications for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.
In response to the quickly spreading Coronavirus, Santa Clara County instituted its Shelter-in-Place order on March 16, 2020. As a result, most families are required to stay home until further notice, and all non-essential businesses are to remain closed. While this could be a helpful step to prevent the proliferation of COVID-19, it also creates dangerous environments for those living with abusers.
Domestic violence legal advocates suspect that increased stress from widespread layoffs and the global health pandemic will inevitably lead to a rise is domestic violence. This, coupled with the fact that families have been directed to quarantine in their homes, put domestic violence survivors and those living with abusers at an even higher risk of harm. Furthermore, the state wide closure of schools, requiring children to stay home, leaves children more vulnerable to witness or to be the victim of domestic violence as well.
In the midst of a series of factors pointing to rises in domestic violence, the Courts, where domestic violence victims can turn to for protection, are working at minimum capacity to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A current misconception, however, is that “everything is closed” and there are no avenues to obtain protection. That is entirely false!
- The Santa Clara County Family Justice Center is still accepting ex-parte application for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.
- Domestic Violence hotlines are still open.
- Domestic Violence shelters are still open.
- Silicon Valley YWCA offers “Safe Chat” on their website allowing users to ask for help via chat if they don’t feel safe asking for help out loud via phone.
- Please see the Santa Clara County Family Justice Center’s list of community resources for domestic violence for additional resources.
It must be understood, however, that even though these resources are available, victims of domestic violence may still be limited in their access as a result of their abusers control. It is not uncommon for an abuser to restrict their partner’s access to phones, computers, and other forms of communication as a method of control. Being quarantined with an abuser can reduce a victim’s access to get help.
Consequently, and according some domestic violence resource centers, calls for assistance have actually declined during the COVID-19 crisis and are expected to continue to decline. Victims of domestic violence now face yet another layer of complexity in seeking help – weighing the risks of leaving their homes amidst a global pandemic with the risks of being quarantined with an abuser.
For victims of domestic violence who have brought their cases before the Court in the past, COVID-19 has created additional complications for custody and visitation agreements where tensions were already high. As of the publishing of this article, the Court’s position is that all custody and visitation orders remain intact. It is expected, however, that parents may use this pandemic as an excuse to withhold visitation from the other.
If you have questions or concerns regarding Domestic Violence Restraining Orders or custody and visitation, please call our office to schedule a consultation. Here at Mello & Pickering, LLP we have extensive experience with family law domestic violence cases. With 35+ years of combined experience in family law, we will listen to the facts of your case and can help you come up with the best possible strategy to ensure you have a strong case.