An Unlikely Trio: Coronavirus, Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

Despite more people being at home, domestic violence reports are down.

Coronavirus, domestic violence, and sexual assault – how are they related? In a surprise to many, domestic violence complaints have actually gone down since the Florida Stay-at-Home-Order was enforced. Most would think victims stuck at home with their abuser would increase domestic violence complaints. However, the opposite has happened.

On April 1, the Florida Governor issued a Stay-at-Home-Order in an effort to slow down the coronavirus spread. With families being stuck at home—including victims of domestic violence and family related sexual assaults—why would complaints go down? It is possible victims feel scared of the results of making a domestic violence complaint and then being home with their abuser. For example, the abuser lashing out because of the complaint. Victims may also feel scared about being displaced, going to the police station or courthouse and catching the coronavirus.

Some believe this could be the “calm before the storm.” Many fear that domestic violence complaints will increase in the coming months, but only time will tell. It is important for sexual assault victims to feel like they have a safe place to shelter, even if that place may be away from their home. During the coronavirus pandemic, shelters remain open for victims.

Additionally, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Uber announced a program that offers free rides to help victims of domestic violence escape abuse and get to a shelter. The program will target areas in Florida with the highest complaints of domestic violence, including Hillsborough, Orange, and Pinellas counties. During the news release, Moody stated, “through this new program with Uber, I am hopeful that we can connect more victims with the shelter and life-saving services they need to escape abuse and begin the healing process.”

Unlike domestic violence victims, the coronavirus Stay-at-Home-Order may actually be a safe haven for some sexual assault victims. Sexual assault and harassment can occur anywhere. Some common situations occur at the workplace, hotels, or even schools. In these sexual assault or harassment situations, the abuser and victim do not live together. Therefore, the coronavirus pandemic and Stay-at-Home-Order may allow some victims an opportunity to come out of the situation and force those responsible for any sexual assault or harassment to face justice.

If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted or harassed, you have the legal right to seek damages from those responsible. It is crucial that you have a proven Florida sexual assault attorney in your corner even if you now feel protected because you are staying at home, the emotional damages that follow a sexual harassment or assault can endure over time.

At Mase Mebane & Briggs, our Florida sexual assault lawyers have decades of combined experience fighting for our clients in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. We know how courts and juries often look at these cases and we understand the sensitivity of these matters, handling each case with the appropriate level of privacy with which our client is comfortable. Our results speak for themselves.