Seeking help for domestic violence can be challenging for a victim. The abuser may closely monitor every action, including their cell phones, tablets, and computers. It can be impossible to look up information about domestic abuse or contact a helpline or organization for assistance.
A 17-year-old Polish high school student had a genius idea for how to help domestic violence victims get the help they need. Her efforts won her a European Union prize. According to Krystyna Paszko, she came up with the idea after hearing about the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic and a French initiative to help people who are being abused at home.
A Fake Online Cosmetics Website Sends Help to Domestic Violence Victims
Krystyna Paszko heard about French pharmacies where people could go for help. If someone came into the pharmacy and asked for a special mask, the pharmacist knew that they were victims of domestic violence.
Paszko took that idea and created Camomiles and Pansies. The fake online cosmetic company allows victims to request help by appearing to shop online. The abuser does not realize that the victim is seeking help.
A victim writes to ask about purchasing a cream. Instead of a salesperson, a psychologist responds to ask about how long the person has experienced skin problems and how the affected area responds to alcohol. If the person places an order and leaves an address, it is a request for authorities to visit the person’s home.
Since opening the website, more than 350 people have used the website.
Making it Easier for Domestic Abuse Victims to Seek Help
A victim can reach out for help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). However, some victims may not use a cell phone, or the abuser may monitor them closely.
Internet usage can also be monitored by abusers. It is difficult to erase the websites you visit entirely from your browser’s history. An abuser with knowledge of the internet can review a list of websites a victim visits. The wrong keyword search or website could result in severe beatings or death.
If a victim can use the internet, they can chat with a person live on the hotline’s website. The victim can also get information about getting help, planning for safety, and locating local resources.
Domestic Violence Continues to Be a Worldwide Healthcare Crisis
Domestic violence touches lives in all countries of the world. In the United States, about 20 people are physically abused each minute by an intimate partner. That means that more than 10 million men and women are victims of domestic violence each year in the U.S.
Domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 phone calls a day. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of intimate partner violence incidents increased by 42 percent. Preliminary information indicates that incidents of domestic violence increased as stay-at-home orders went into place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the cases of domestic violence include components of sexual abuse and rape. Weapons and firearms are also a common component of domestic abuse. A partner’s access to a firearm increases the risk of femicide by 400 percent.
In addition to domestic violence’s physical and emotional toll, partner violence causes billions of dollars in economic damages. Victims of domestic abuse lose over eight million days of paid work each year. Up to 60 percent of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs as a consequence of domestic violence.
Stopping Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Abuse
Government agencies and advocacy groups work together to educate the public about domestic violence and intimate partner violence. Some of those efforts are aimed at teaching teenagers about safe and healthy relationship skills. When teenagers learn about healthy relationships, it can be easier for them to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship in time to get out of the relationship before they are victims of abuse.
Other strategies for preventing domestic abuse and intimate partner abuse include:
- Create protective environments at schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods for victims to seek assistance
- Strengthen economic support for families
- Provide support for survivors to help them survive outside of the abusive home
- Lobby for more protection from law enforcement and the courts
- Teaching the signs of emotional, physical, and psychological abuse
- Educating individuals, organizations, physicians, schools, and other groups on the risk factors for domestic abuse and violence
- Providing the resources people need to get out of a violent situation
By empowering people who can make a difference with the knowledge and resources necessary to recognize domestic violence, we can help save more people from remaining victims of abuse in their homes.