The most dangerous place in the world for a woman is her own home. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, intimate partner violence affects millions of women every year.
In the time of the coronavirus, being quarantined with an abusive partner poses greater risks. An uptick in domestic violence has already been recorded in China. In an interview with the magazine Sixth Tone, Wan Fei, the founder of an anti-violence nonprofit in Jingzhou, Hubei, said that reports of domestic violence have nearly doubled since cities went into lockdown. Concerns are also mounting in the United Kingdom — where last year 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic violence — as a lockdown becomes increasingly likely.
Victims ordinarily wait to be by themselves before they seek help. They wait for their abuser to go to work. They secretly reach out to friends. They look for openings when they don’t have child-care obligations. All those options are closing down.
The pandemic raises many questions for victims in dire need of attention from our city, state and federal agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations. What do you do if you’re confined to the most terrifying place — your home.
Maricopa County Courts are open for domestic violence victims who need Orders of Protection. Some courts are limiting hours of operation, but many remain open (either physically or virtually) for high priority cases, which usually includes emergency protection or restraining orders (Orders of Protection).
If you need legal assistance, contact an attorney to assist you in obtaining an Order of Protection. Keep checking court websites. Check your local court’s website for information on emergency rules, hours of operation, and how to file petitions for protection orders. And continue to check back as courts update emergency orders and add or expand the use of virtual courts and remote appearances.
As shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders get extended, know that they still have exceptions for seeking emergency services and safe shelter. For example, the first exception listed in Minnesota’s stay-at-home order states that individuals at risk of domestic violence are “allowed and urged to leave their home” and relocate to a safe place.
If you require assistance in obtaining an Order of Protection (aka Restraining Order), contact the attorneys at Lasiter & Jackson at (602) 234-5900.