Being forced to stay at home with an abusive spouse or partner during the COVID-19 pandemic can feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells, afraid of setting him/her off. The truth is that you are not the only one.
Many families in Virginia are experiencing increased tensions at home while the stay-at-home order is still in place. Without being able to spend most days at work or socialize with family and friends, you may feel trapped and hopeless. However, you still have several options to protect yourself and your rights.
The following are seven tips for domestic violence victims during the COVID-19 quarantine:
- Call the police – Call 911 if you believe that your life and your children’s lives are in imminent danger, or you need emergency medical assistance. For non-emergency situations, contact your local police.
- Speak to a domestic violence counselor – You can speak with a domestic violence support counselor by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or through a live online chat. For the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance Statewide Hotline, call 1-800-838-8238, text 804-793-9999, or chat online. Make sure you find a safe space to speak to a counselor, such as calling from your parked car or visiting your neighbor.
- Hire a lawyer – An experienced domestic violence attorney can protect your rights and best interests throughout the legal process.
- File a petition for a protective order– Emergency protective orders are usually issued by a Magistrate along with a criminal offense or can be issued by a Judge and they last for up to 72 hours. Every county in Virginia has a process in place to issue a preliminary protective order so you can hire an attorney or contact the court where you live to find out the process. A preliminary protective order lasts until your scheduled protective order hearing which is set within 15 days. A permanent protective can be entered for up to two years.
- Reach out to your support system – Identify individuals who can rely on for emotional and/or financial support, as well as those who have room in their homes for you and your kids if you need to leave your living situation.
- Keep a record of the abuse – Document every violent incident in detail and don’t forget to write down the dates, times, and names of everyone who was abused and witnessed each incident. Make sure you keep the journal safe and that your electronic file is password protected.
- Leave, if necessary – If you and your children are in physical danger or your abuser violates a protective order, leave your home immediately and call the police.
Remember, you are not the reason why your spouse or partner is abusive. Additionally, do not retaliate against violence by responding with more violence.
At The Law Office of Ann Thayer, PLLC, we are dedicated to protecting the lives and rights of domestic violence victims in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia. We are ready to help you get the legal help necessary to protect you and your family.
Contact us today at (703) 940-0001 and schedule a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.