Ensuring Domestic Violence Survivors’ Safety – Center for American Progress

However, VAWA is just one component of a much-needed broader continuum of care and safety that prioritizes the needs of survivors; this includes considering the differing experiences of survivors across communities and building solutions that are culturally competent. The interventions needed to create a robust infrastructure of support must center the experiences of survivors throughout the healing process. Support infrastructure must feature interventions that adopt strong prevention measures to disrupt violence in its earliest forms; minimize economic barriers to services and overall economic costs on survivors; create strong support systems focused on health and safety; tackle the root causes of violence; and build a network of trained professionals to assist survivors along the way and stop illegal and toxic behavior. An infrastructure that is understood to respond only after an incident has occurred, rather than one focused on building a reliable care and safety network, is an infrastructure that fails survivors.

Support in the time of COVID-19

State and local officials have failed to clearly communicate available protections for survivors and to recognize that survivors’ needs have not disappeared in the face this pandemic. Of stay-at-home orders issued between March 12 and May 12, 2020, only 17 states explicitly listed DV survivors or others seeking safety as people or activities exempt from stay-at-home orders.10 In addition, the federal guidance on essential infrastructure that many states rely upon does not clearly indicate that essential businesses include DV supports such as shelters and other DV programs. Only five states—Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana—exceeded this guidance by explicitly listing DV shelters, and thereby these workers, as essential in state guidance.11 Doing so both clarified protections available to survivors and communicated that state and local officials recognize survivors’ ongoing needs during this pandemic.

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