COVID-19, Domestic Abuse and the Texas Stay-at-Home Order

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has put a new spin on how fast our lives can change. In a chain reaction, the pandemic has affected everything from simple trips to the grocery store to legal issues involving family law.

COVID-19 Fuels Cases of Domestic Violence 

A report by the New York Times found the pandemic has fueled cases of domestic violence around the globe, largely due to “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders from state and local governments. In early April, Governor Greg Abbott told Texans to stay home, and venture out only for the essentials, such as for trips to the grocery store, or to provide essential services.

But what if being told to stay home only makes a bad family situation worse?

The Good (and Bad) Consequences of Social Isolation

On social media and in the news, people have reported heightened feelings of closeness. This isn’t only because we’re physically closer to our families. It’s also because of what could be considered a “positive” side effect of COVID-19: the chance to take a step back from the busyness of our day-to-day lives to reevaluate what’s most important.

Many of us are reconnecting with loved ones and friends (at a safe social distance on Zoom or from across the yard), reacquainting ourselves with hobbies, and catching up on rest. But this isn’t the case for all people and families.

A spouse or partner who was abusive or violent before the COVID-19 outbreak is not likely to stop being abusive or violent after the stay-at-home orders. In fact, the opposite may be true: job loss, economic uncertainty, fear of illness—all of these may increase anxiety and fuel abuse. 

Ensuring Your Physical and Financial Safety Is an Essential Activity

“During the epidemic,” said one victim of domestic violence in the Times report, “we were unable to go outside, and our conflicts just grew bigger and bigger and more and more frequent. Everything was exposed.” What can you do if you’re facing this kind of situation? 

Governor Abbott’s stay-at-home order includes a general exception for venturing out: “You never know what the exception would be,” he told the Texas Tribune, “like let’s say there’s some emergency where you have to go do something or whatever the case may be.” 

Governor Abbott’s statement about “having to go do something” would include escaping imminent danger from domestic abuse.

Facing Domestic Abuse? Need a Restraining Order? Call Us Today.

The government (local, state and federal) is essentially operating under a state of emergency. As a nation, we’re responding to the pandemic as circumstances unfold, and as we learn more about how to deal with the virus.

At the same time, we’re grappling with the same issues we were before the crisis, including family law matters like domestic abuse or violence. At the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward, we help clients obtain both financial and protective restraining orders in cases of abuse or violence. If you need help, call 817-789-4436 or send us a message.