Intimate Partner Violence on the Rise During COVID-19

Joyce B. Robinson

January 11, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual and/or physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. According to the CDC, the term “Intimate Partner Violence” describes physical and sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many postal employees may have partners who are out of work. The additional financial stress may worsen situations in homes where intimate partner violence has already been a problem. Below are the CDC’s definitions of various forms of intimate partner violence that may occur:

Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.

Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a nonphysical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.

Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and nonverbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or to exert control over another person.

Develop a Safety Plan

If you are an abusive relationship, you should maintain copies of important documents to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. These papers should be kept where they are safe and easily accessible. They should include Social Security cards and birth certificates, leases or deeds to the home, your bank and charge account statements, and insurance policies. You should also:

  • Have a safe place to go if an argument occurs.
  • Avoid getting trapped in rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
  • Keep a list of important numbers to contact for support.
  • If possible, put aside money weekly for emergencies.
  • Establish a code word or sign so that others know when to call for help.
  • Move, change your phone number and instruct your family and friends not to give it out.
  • If you can’t move, change the locks and avoid staying alone.

If important matters require the two of you to meet, never go alone and always meet in a public place.

What Co-Workers Can Do

Intimate Partner Violence is a problem in virtually all countries, cultures, classes and income groups. Co-workers can offer support by:

  • Listening without being judgmental.
  • Encouraging the victim to leave the abusive situation.
  • Aiding in securing housing.
  • Providing information on available resources.
  • Maintaining confidentiality and being sensitive to the seriousness of the situation.

If you or someone you know is a victim of Intimate Partner Violence, I urge you to seek help today! Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Also, Postal employees may contact the Employee’s Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-327-4968. Services are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and are free and strictly confidential for victims or family members at risk.

Resources for this article include text from the CDC and National Domestic Hotline.

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