Photo: AP When Hurricane Michael whirled against Florida a week ago, Meg Baldwin went to exaggerate. As Chief Executive Officer…
When Hurricane Michael whirled against Florida a week ago, Meg Baldwin went to exaggerate. As Chief Executive Officer of Refuge House, working to end violence at home in Big Bend, she has to make sure her organization was ready for what she knew where to come: increased calls to their hotline and a nail in urgent need for protection from survivors and victims.
Baldwin’s expectations did not come out of nowhere. When disaster strikes, violence comes at home – not only in Florida but around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Violence can take many forms, from child abuse to sexual violence to intimate partner violence. People like Baldwin have seen everything firsthand before.
And with the Panhandle residents still stumbling upon Michael’s destruction, there is already evidence that the violence cycle could repeat.
“Weather events such as these and disasters are generally opportunities for addicts – both violence attacks and sexually abusive victims – to exploit the restrictive survivors who need resources and to also benefit from the isolation in compliance with survival experiences, Baldwin Earther told.” The insulation becomes even more intense and is even more an opportunity for attackers to hurt others. “
A large number of hotline talks came in before the storm in the eight North Florida counties Refuge House serves, including hard-hit Wakulla and Gadsden County Baldwin said. People, largely women, sought immediate protection (both from the storm and their addicts) and the two akuthem of the house was overcapacity at the time when Hurricane Michael made landing on October 10th as a Category 4 storm. The shields contained more than 60 women between the two, compared to the usual 35-40, said Baldwin. A supplement of 20 people Maybe not sound like much, but it’s for this countryside.
“The storm that strikes against these communities means that already isolated victims are still isolated. This means that law enforcement resources intended for their protection have been sent to other needs.”
Avoiding addicts is the key under disasters, because studies show that violence is getting worse in relationships that already experience it and increase prevalence across the board, “said Jennifer First, a psychiatric program director at the disaster and the Community crisis center at the University of Missouri, who has conducted extensive research in this field.
And you do not have to look far back in the history books to prove. Take Hurricane Harvey who hit Houston in August 2017. The number of victims of domestic violence that sought help from January to August from the Katy Christian Ministries crisis center, serving the West Houston area, more than doubled from 417 in 2017 to 1,025 this year. Reports of sexual assault got the center almost tripled, according to a report released by the center earlier this week.
For the hurricane Maria, the deadliest storm in modern American history, the situation did not look much better. Lack of power threatened elderly and ill who needed machines for their medicine, but this dark also left abusive survivors and victims on the island vulnerable, as reported by Refinery 29. After the storm, local non-ideal ESCAPE saw requests for survivor-related services by 62 percent. A similar nail in domestic violence has been documented after Hurricane Andrew 1992, Hurricane Katrina 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
For some, this addiction can be fatal: Nearly half of all female death victims are killed by a stream or former intimate partner , according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in five women and about one in seven men report having had severe physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime, per CDC. Color women are particularly vulnerable.
Why? Many of the data points range.
“She may have fewer housing choices,” said first. “She may have less social support. These are all the risks that are often associated with domestic violence.”
After disasters like hurricanes societies are more likely to experience job losses, displacement, loss of housing and financial problems. All this applies especially to groups of color and low-income neighborhoods who are already experiencing these inequalities. (Michael struck the state’s poorest region.) Even without natural disasters, economic and housing challenges can increase the risk of domestic violence, said first. Throw a hurricane into the mix and chaos can follow.
“These communities and these families and these survivors were already very stressed before the storm came,” said Baldwin from Refuge House to Earther. “People really live by day, on the verge of being able to meet their basic needs, and it’s a common day. So with the storm that strikes these communities, it means that already isolated victims are still isolated. This means that law enforcement are intended for their protection has been sent to other needs. “
States like New Jersey and Missouri have begun addressing the forefront of domestic violence that accompanies natural disasters through training to emergency situations and increased funding for victims of violence, but more need to happen, especially in coastal communities in the south that handle these hurricanes the most, said first.
At least in Florida, Baldwin participates, her team at Refuge House goes door to help agencies. The state brings food and water, and Refuge House provides advice and comfort offerings that can be searched during this tumultuous time.
They have done this for the past 10 years and remain on the ground associated with hurricane Michael. Although victims and survivors needed immediate protection only in the coming weeks and months, they may need assistance in finding permanent housing or protection from an addict.
As the information shows us, the danger may be a long time after a storm passes. These coming weeks are just the beginning.