Earlier this year, we announced a new Rover partnership with LifeWire and New Beginnings to help survivors of domestic abuse who own pets. As more and more people are advised to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, few are feeling its difficulties more acutely than survivors of domestic violence and abuse. A stay-at-home order creates new challenges: more time with their abuser and new hurdles to getting help.
With families in lockdown, domestic violence websites are seeing a surge of visits. Police departments across the country are seeing double-digit increases in domestic violence-related calls, and our community is no exception. In Seattle, police reports of domestic violence have risen by 21% during this time.
The scary thing is, we aren’t getting the full picture right now. Many survivors who are forced into constant proximity with abusive partners are unable to reach out to hotlines for help.
Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline puts it this way:
“We’re really bracing for a spike post-COVID-19—that’s when law enforcement and advocates and courts are going to hear the really, really scary stuff going on behind closed doors.”
We have never needed more support to help women escape violent and dangerous situations.
Rover started its domestic violence program because of hidden truths: roughly half of all domestic violence survivors delay leaving their abuser out of fear for their pets’ wellbeing and safety. And, unfortunately, only 3% of domestic violence shelters allow pets.
In a time like this, we want to do what we can to keep our community of pet parents safe. Our program remains in place, and we are grateful to the sitters on Rover who have volunteered to open their homes and hearts to the pets of survivors who choose to seek shelter at LifeWire and New Beginnings.
For information on the difficulties survivors may face during this time, please visit LifeWire’s COVID-19 page and Caring Community Campaign aimed at sharing stories of hope and resilience while raising money for services. You can also visit New Beginnings’ COVID-19 FAQ for advice on what to do if you are experiencing an unsafe situation in your home, including how to de-escalate and minimize violence.
If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing abuse, below are additional resources that can provide support, safety planning, information and referrals, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
Remember that you are not alone. If you live in East or North King County, LifeWire is here for you at 425-746-1940. If you live in Seattle, New Beginnings is here for you at 206-522-9472. Rover, LifeWire, and New Beginnings stand ready to care for you and your pet as you get the help you need.