While this pandemic has caused difficulties for everyone, it has been especially challenging for victims of gender violence. The stay-at-home orders have cornered people into close quarters with abusive cohabiters over longer periods of time. Many of these abusive cohabiters are limiting or constantly monitoring victims’ cell phones and computers, making it nearly impossible for many people to contact resources who could offer help or a way out.
Our team recognized that several physical and digital barriers were preventing crisis centers and shelters from reaching victims. In March 2020, our team established the Duke Cyber Policy and Gender Violence Initiative with the hope of helping survivors. We’ve created an advocacy project that aims to provide direct resources to victims and increase the number of active bystanders with the hope of relieving some of these barriers. We are also working with different partners, such as the COVID-19 Taskforce on Domestic Violence, to collect data on national crisis centers to help understand the challenges survivors and shelters are undergoing at this time.