June 16, 2020
A statement on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dearest Advocacy Community:
We are thinking of you all, knowing that these uncertain times present deep challenges for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and those working alongside them. Curbing this pandemic through social distancing does not cancel-out the need for community building – in fact, it requires it.
There is no safety for survivors without access to economic security. The economic impacts of domestic and sexual violence are substantially more acute in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19. With restrictions on public space, a slowed economy, and the shutdown of critical government resources, many survivors are finding themselves without a source of income and without access to the basic material resources and services needed for their safety. This economic instability combined with social distancing compounds the traumatic impacts of abuse, increasing survivors’ vulnerability to violence and economic hardship.
As the days unfold, the COVID epidemic is exposing profound systemic inequities throughout our institutions, jeopardizing the safety of survivors, particularly survivors from marginalized communities. Undocumented immigrant survivors are fearful of seeking medical care at hospitals, due to the risk of deportation by ICE. People with disabilities and elders are at higher risk of infection and have less access to groceries needed for home quarantine. Low wage workers in “essential services,” like healthcare and cleaning are still required to work, placing them at higher risk of contracting the virus and bringing it home to their children. Families that rely on school lunches are not able to feed their children, and online schooling is out of reach for low income students, leading to rippling impacts on future educational and economic opportunity. These structural inequities (and many more) lay bare the barriers that have always existed for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. And our persistent call to action is now at a higher frequency.
In the midst of these literal epidemic hardships, advocates and survivors across the country and world are engaged in creative and powerful acts of resilience. As a result of the fierce advocacy of grassroots advocates, businesses are taking steps to suspend debt collections, utility companies are keeping the lights on, cities are placing a moratorium on evictions in public housing, employers are extending paid leave and pooling the salaries of higher paid workers to provide cash assistance to those in greatest need. These and other bold acts of resistance are emerging everywhere in places big and small. Advocates have always been the life force of the domestic violence movement, and now is no exception. Guided by the wisdom of survivors, advocates are filling the gaps, pushing back against shut institutional doors, and shining a light toward opportunity even during the bleakest of times.
In Solidarity, CSAJ Team