According to a report issued by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice in February 2021, incidents of domestic violence in the United States increased by approximately 8.1% during the lockdown periods imposed by state and local governments. The rise was attributed to various factors, such as unemployment, increased alcohol use, stress relating to childcare and homeschooling, and the separation of victims from possible means of support. Although the lockdowns and restrictions implemented during the early days of the pandemic may have been lifted and eliminated, the threat of domestic violence still looms, and victims and survivors still need assistance. Fortunately, some of that assistance came by way of a local donation and some help from the federal government.
The Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (HCDVCC) recently announced that Ring, the creator of the video doorbell of the same name, donated “500 devices to HCDVCC, including Ring Video Doorbells, Security Cameras, and a free Ring Protect subscription plan for the life of each donated device.” These devices will supplement HCDVCC’s already-comprehensive safety plan for survivors of domestic violence and can provide some much-needed peace of mind because they allow the survivor to monitor the door area via the camera in real time, speak to people at the door remotely, and access recordings through their phone. Additionally, the devices are portable, so survivors can take them with them if they move. HCDVCC will be working with Northwest Assistance Ministries’ Family Violence Center to distribute the donated devices.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), the initiative to provide direct financial relief to Americans, rescue the economy, and combat COVID-19, also included an allocation of funds to help survivors of domestic violence. Specifically, section 2204 of the ARP provides additional funding to carry out the purpose of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), 42 U.S.C. § 10401, et seq. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded $200 million to support FVPSA programs, such as crisis intervention and safety planning services, reducing the pervasiveness of domestic violence in geographically isolated Alaskan Native Villages and other Native American Tribes, and providing support services for children exposed to domestic violence.
If you or someone you know has or is experiencing a family violence situation, please get help immediately. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or visit its website for helpful resources and more information.