By Brooke Cheney
For millions of Americans home is not a safe place. Many victims of domestic violence are not doing well under COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions. I volunteer at a crisis hotline. People reach out to me to share their heartbreaking stories. For some children, the only time they are not being hit and yelled at, is when they are in school. For adults, being at the workplace, is their safe space, not their home. For the ederly, their only time of peace is when their caretaker is away.
I am frequently asked why victims of domestic abuse don’t seek help or leave their abuser. Even without a global pandemic, that’s a hard question to answer. According to the CDC family and domestic violence (including child abuse, intimate partner abuse, and elder abuse) is a common problem in the United States, estimted to affect 10 million people in the United States every year. Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men 18 years of age or older experience domestic violence. Each year it claims the lives of over 1,500 Americans.
Sadly, many are missing how the global pandemic has made the problem worse. Domestic violence hotlines are getting calls such as, “My husband is threatening to throw me out of the house so that I get COVID and die.” Other callers say they are being made to wash their hands until they are raw. The stories and cries for help are heartbreaking. People who had been working up the courage to leave an abusive situation don’t know if shelters are even open or not, adding one more level of uncertainty to their escape.
There is no one-size fits all solution to this complex problem. However, as an advocate for the Second Amendment and the safe and responsible use of firearms, I tell women who fear for their personal safety that gun rights are women’s rights. It’s important that all women be educated about how to be their own first responder.
Everyone, not just victims of domestic violence, needs to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their children. For many women, that means getting self defense training. Sometimes that includes owning a gun and learning to use it safely and responsibly.
Because almost every governor has deemed licensed firearms dealers essential businesses, even during this pandemic, a victim of abuse can purchase a firearm for self defense. The NRA offers basic firearms safety training online and A Girl and A Gun is a great online resource for finding an instructor and range near you.
In addition, please look up and share helplines and local resources. You might not be in need, but you never know who may need to see an offer for help on your social media. Some helpful search titles are: domestic violence (insert your state or town), domestic violence hotline, abuse shelters near me.
As a mom, wife, and daughter I want to save everyone, but know that isn’t possible. While trying to protect some from COVID-19, we need to realize we are harming others. There is no solution that saves all, but we do need to look at a wider picture than just one disease to do our best to do more good than harm.
Brooke Cheney is a Competitive shooter, NRA certified firearms instructor, and the Connecticut representative to the The DC Project.
The DC Project is an educational, nonpartisan group of women from all 50 states that advocate for Second Amendment education over legislation. These women gun rights advocates know that gun rights are women’s rights and every woman must be prepared to be their own first responder. They are women gun owners who care about making firearms safety and education a top priority.