Domestic Violence: How To Get Help During This Time of Quarantine

While the global pandemic and its resulting quarantine is difficult for everyone, victims of domestic violence may be at higher risk of personal harm or death from their abuser than from COVID-19. Across the country and around the world, the calls for urgent assistance in domestic violence cases are rising at an alarming rate. Central Florida is no exception. 

If you feel that you or another member of your household is now in danger, Orlando Family Team, an accomplished firm of domestic violence attorneys, is ready to help. We are continuing to provide the excellent legal services we are well-known for during the pandemic. Now, however, we are using modern technology to make communication with our clients safe at this time of social distancing. 

Like many other professionals, we are available to connect with you through video conferencing, texting, and email. We also have relationships with other professionals you may need during this overwhelming period, such as psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists who may be helpful in easing turmoil on the homefront. As your domestic violence attorneys, we can do a number of things to assist you, including:

  • Obtaining a protective order against your abuser
  • Helping you to file for divorce
  • Helping you to engage in emergency child custody proceedings or modifications
  • Giving you contact information to programs, resources and support for domestic violence victims

What To Do First

In a true crisis in which you are being threatened, attacked, or intimidated by threats against another family member, you should immediately call 911. Even with somewhat reduced law enforcement available, a call of imminent danger will bring a police officer to your home. 

The Florida hotline for domestic abuse in your county can also be very helpful. The workers answering these hotlines have up-to-date information about precisely what you should do (and not do) to de-escalate the situation and where you and your children can go to be safe.

Once you are safe, your next call should be to a skilled domestic violence attorney, like Orlando Family Team, who will assist you in obtaining a protective order and, if necessary, help you to relocate you to a safe haven while pursuing a divorce.

Why Domestic Violence Increases During Quarantine

In most cases, households in which domestic violence occurs are hotbeds of tension a good part of the time. Now that a pandemic hangs like a black cloud over the world, and most people are being told to stay home as much as possible, domestic violence-prone homes are experiencing more and more explosive behavior. 

Tragically, domestic violence has increased all over the world, and Florida is no exception. Where many parts of the state have seen a 30 percent increase in domestic violence calls, in the Treasure Coast Counties the increase is reported at 79 percent!

Reasons for the increase in domestic abuse during quarantine, including sexual abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse, include:

  • The inability for people to have time apart since so many individuals are out of work and most only leave their homes to get necessities. The situation is worse in crowded city apartments where exposure is just outside the door and where children cannot play outside safely.
  • Finances are strained to the breaking point due to lay-offs, inability to pay bills, price-gouging on staples, sanitizing products, and protective gear. 
  • Fear of illness and death from COVID-19 and fear of losing one’s home.
  • Abusers, whose psychological profiles include a deep-seated desire for control, are often made frantic by the loss of control engendered by a large scale calamity like the pandemic.
  • Victims who in ordinary times might have left the abuser temporarily may no longer have that as a safe option because of the necessity to obey social distancing regulations.
  • Domestic violence perpetrators who abuse drugs or alcohol and have access to such substances during quarantine may have time now to indulge more and become more out of control as a result. On the other hand, substance abusers forced to abstain during quarantine may become increasingly frustrated, angry, and more aggressive.
  • During the fear created by the pandemic, gun sales are up significantly, so more abusers may have weapons.

Domestic violence during quarantine is frequently all the more oppressive because victims cannot call for help from a safe place if they are trapped in small quarters with their abusers. In addition, most shelters are full to capacity, even more so because they attempt to keep those they are sheltering at permitted social distances from one another. In some U.S. locations, hotels emptied by the coronavirus are serving not only as shelters for the homeless, but as havens for victims of domestic abuse.

Who may be considered a domestic abuser?

Many people mistakenly believe that domestic abusers are always current or former spouses or intimate partners, but this is not the case. Domestic abusers may also be:

  • Others related to you by blood or marriage (e.g. parent or child, in-law) 
  • Individuals with whom you have lived, or do live, as part of a family
  • Anyone with whom you have a child in common (whether or not you have ever married)

We’ll Work Hard To Protect You and Your Children

Orlando Family Team is uniquely qualified to provide legal guidance and representation if you are suffering domestic violence during this period of quarantine. Though state regulations regarding social distancing are being eased in Florida and beaches have been reopened, the novel coronavirus will be affecting our health and the economy for a long time. Even if we aren’t required to stay in our homes, you may still find your own domestic situation more volatile due to health concerns and loss of income. 

Because our practice is run by a husband and wife team who are also parents, and because of our extensive experience with domestic violence, we relate to what you’re going through on a deep level. Contact us as soon as you’re safely able to do so. We are dedicated to lifting you out of the danger you’re in and helping you to restart your life from a secure place.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.