Prepare, Prevent and Respond to COVID-19
This project supported through the CARES Act under the Family Violence & Prevention Services Act informing the community to prepare, prevent and respond to COVID-19
Written by: PROVISION Photo from: Department of Health, American Samoa Facebook
According to Samoa News, the Covid-19 Task Force will complete its work by the third week in January 2023 (Samoa News, 2022). When the emergency declarations end, American Samoa borders will be open beginning January 1, 2023. The Task Force agrees meetings are no longer necessary, but reporting requirements by local Government Agencies (i.e., DOH, LBJ Medical center, ancillary agencies, etc.) would still be required. The Task Force discussed the possibilities of having a close out event by January 17, 2023. During the pandemic domestic violence and sexual assault cases intensified since the outbreak of Covid-19. Council on Criminal Justice reported there was an 8% increase in U.S. Domestic Violence Incidents following stay-at-home orders. The Journal of Emergency Medicine reports cases increased by 25 to 33% globally.
Since the beginning of COVID-19, American Samoa has implemented lockdowns, and air mobility restrictions, leaving many women trapped with their abusers. The increase in stories of violence during the pandemic were shared stories of abused victims who were trapped, and isolated from social contact. Support networks in American Samoa changed during the pandemic as families were not allowed to gather or share the same spaces. Victims were made to wear masks, which can trigger memories of being smothered by their abusers. Decreasing work hours for employees during the pandemic impacted many women’s ability to leave abusive situations. What we have learned during this pandemic is isolation has placed victims causing increased harm. The more time spent isolated with abusers has caused intensified interpersonal violence.
Here are ways that we can help our local victims. First is to increase a victim and their family’s wellness. The Alliance has built in resilience tools in every webinar, training, and discussion within the community. This can be teaching them how to build words that are positive, finding a safe space to separate themselves from their abuser. Secondly, defining and creating safe living conditions. We share information on our website, and Facebook on how to Safety Plan. Third, not being able to access services. There are limited-service providers on the island, as well as community organizations. The Alliance has been able to build connections with service providers and we refer victims directly for assistance. It can be daunting for victims, but we also rely on other victims who can lend a helping hand.
As reported, the pandemic has seen an increase in domestic and sexual violence. There are a myriad way how the pandemic impacted lives of victims. Yet, it is important to note during the pandemic we were able to determine how to improve or add to the needs of victims.
Council on Criminal Justice (2022) New Analysis Shows 8% Increase in U.S. Domestic Violence Incidents Following Pandemic Stay-At-Home Orders. Retrieved on: 12/29/2022 from: https://counciloncj.org/new-analysis-shows-8-increase-in-u-s-domestic-violence-incidents-following-pandemic-stay-at-home-orders/
Yang, M (2022) Shadow pandemic of domestic violence. The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved on: 12/25/2022 from: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2022/06/shadow-pandemic-of-domestic-violence/
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