As we’ve mentioned in previous posts about #wfh, for over a decade the whole VPO team has worked remotely. For millions of other people though, including our clients and partners, the COVID-19 crisis has ushered in a work-from-home lifestyle that’s brand new. Because we now have a window into our colleagues’ homes through videoconferencing, we’ve all glimpsed a customer’s curious cat, or overheard a co-worker’s kid complaining about burnt pizza. But what if the scene we inadvertently observe, feels worrisome instead of benign?
Sheltering in place helps to protect us from acquiring and spreading this novel coronavirus, but unfortunately isolation also enables abusers in perpetrating acts of domestic violence without their being detected. Home can be the most dangerous place for adult and child victims alike, and not being able to visit safe spaces like school, or be with supportive people like co-workers, can make it extremely difficult for victims to be monitored for safety, or to access help. In many cases people who are being abused are facing increased financial and healthcare strain because of employment loss, which makes leaving their abusive situation even harder and more risky. Sometimes adults recognize their impulses or behavior as abusive, and seek help in preventing themselves from harming others, but unfortunately that assistance is more difficult to come by right now as well.
Thankfully the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (WC&S), one of many resources all over the world which provide support for victims and survivors of domestic violence, has continued and even ramped up operations in order to serve individuals and families in need. As a Pittsburgh-headquartered company led by women, we’re glad we can lend the WC&S a hand again right now. On Giving Tuesday, May 5, 2020, VPO and The Simplex Group, Inc., donated a catered Cinco-de-Mayo meal for the WC&S’s guests and staff members. Meal sponsorship is just one of many ways that companies and individuals can offer help and express gratitude.
If you see or hear something that feels off—in a Web meeting or in your neighborhood, where others are also likely to be spending more time at home—find a safe moment and a safe way to check in with the person you’re concerned about. If you’re not sure how to proceed, and you’d like to discuss your observations with an expert in matters of domestic violence, please contact the WC&S (412-687-8005) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for guidance. Know that help is not on hold during this pandemic; shelters are open, and judicial and law-enforcement agencies are making arrests and issuing Protection-From-Abuse orders—with minimized in-person filing requirements. One great way for you to help is simply to spread the word.