Sacramento, Calif., — The stay-at-home orders, social distancing, home schooling, layoffs and economic uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic bring a heightened awareness to increases in domestic violence. As the nation marks October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, many victims face a worst-case scenario – trapped at home with limited financial means and feeling there is no way to escape.
“Now more than ever victims need to know there is hope and a realistic path away from the violence,” said California Victim Compensation Board Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill. “CalVCB can provide financial assistance for items that may help those who need leave abusive situations, including relocation costs and loss of income as well as help with medical bills and counseling.”
The National Domestic Violence Hotline information notes an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a single year.
“Domestic violence is a crime that thrives on secrecy and isolation and the conditions of the pandemic dramatically increase the chance an abusive situation may go unnoticed by coworkers, family or friends,” Gledhill said. “This October we can all do our part for Domestic Violence Awareness month by staying vigilant and connected, learning to recognize signs of abuse and taking action to help victims.”
Protective Advice for Victims During COVID
- The CalVCB web site provides immediate protective advice for anyone in an abusive relationship. The first step is creating a personal safety plan to reduce the chance of injury. The plan could include:
- Identifying exits and frequently practicing an escape plan.
- Establishing a code word or signal with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers that this a signal for them to call law enforcement.
- Teaching children to call 911 in case of an emergency.
- Removing guns or other weapons from the house or putting them in hard-to-reach places.
- Keeping the car filled with gas and parked in a position for a quick getaway or memorizing public transit schedules and pick-up locations.
- Contact a domestic violence advocate, who can assist in developing an escape plan and help obtain necessary resources.
- Be cautious when using phones or computers for research or advocate outreach. If possible, only use devices that cannot be accessed by an abuser such as a prepaid cell phone or friend’s computer.
In the last fiscal year, CalVCB provided nearly $13 million to help domestic violence victims. To learn more about CalVCB resources for crime victims please visit victims.ca.gov. Applications for compensation are available in several ways:
- Create an application using CalVCB Online — a secure and private portal that can be easily accessed from a smartphone, tablet or computer.
- Contact a local county Victim Witness Assistance Center.
- Call the CalVCB Help Line at (800) 777-9229.
- Download an application from CalVCB’s How to Apply page.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1981. In 1989 Congress passed a law designated the month as an official annual event. For advocate assistance, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE or call/visit a Victim Assistance Center or Trauma Recovery Center in your area. For immediate assistance, call 911.
The California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) provides reimbursement for crime-related expenses to victims who suffer physical injury or the threat of physical injury as a result of violent crime. CalVCB helps crime victims and their families cover unforeseen expenses such as medical bills, mental health treatment, funeral and burial expenses, income loss and more. To learn more about CalVCB, please visit victims.ca.gov.