March 19, 2020 Breaking Barriers in DV, Domestic Violence and Disabilities 0 Comments


Contributor Sara Eldridge, LMSW, is the Assistant Program Director of Barrier Free Living’s Secret Garden domestic violence program. She is the host of Sit Down With Sara

The rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 is increasing stress and anxiety for all of us.

Unfortunately, for people who are experiencing domestic violence (and have a disability), this crisis can be especially dangerous.

Shelters will remain open during this time, including Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House domestic violence shelter (take a virtual tour of Freedom House) or call (212) 400-6470.

Survivors can also call Barrier Free Living’s Secret Garden domestic violence program hotline from Monday-Friday 9am-5pm for assistance with safety planning, crisis counseling, and information about accessing resources at: Voice Hotline: 212-533-4358; Deaf Services: (646) 807-4013. You can also email: [email protected]

For victims who are already being isolated by their abusers, calls to practice “social distancing” and stay home as much as possible may further cut them off from sources of support.

With businesses closing and employees being placed on leave, victims are losing an avenue for economic independence. Children are home from school, increasing stress and possibly exposing children to domestic violence.

Victims with disabilities are more vulnerable to illness and may be more likely to stay with an abusive caretaker in the event they become sick. Survivors may also be afraid to go into shelter or stay with friends and family because of the risk of sharing or contracting illness.

It is important during this time of uncertainty that survivors develop safety plans and know what to do in case of an emergency.

Survivors should refill any prescriptions they or their children need before pharmacies are inundated or supplies are limited. They should identify friends or family who they can check in with regularly and, if necessary, stay with.

While a survivor may not be able to move out at this time, they can still leave the home for walks, which can be a good way to manage stress and take a break before a situation escalates. The city, state and federal governments are rapidly releasing new guidelines on accessing benefits and resources, so survivors should regularly check government websites.

During this time of uncertainty, it is extremely important that victims and survivors manage their stress levels as much as possible. BFL will be sharing wellness resources on our website, including yoga and meditation, so please keep an eye out for that.
Sara Eldridge, LMSW (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Assistant Program Director
Secret Garden
Voice Hotline: (212) 533-4358 (Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm)
Deaf Services: (646) 807-4013 (Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm)

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