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The Danger of Being Quarantined with an Abuser

Most hotlines, shelters are still ready and willing to help

By Amanda Kippert | DomesticShelters.org

Abusers will likely exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to their own advantage. “This is another opportunity for an abusive partner to control their partner,” says Akapo.

Survivors should be aware that abusers may….

  • Manipulate survivors into believing there are no resources available for them or that police or paramedics won’t respond to their calls.
  • Try to tell survivors that the abuser is infected, that they’ve infected the survivor, and if the survivor leaves them, they’ll put others at risk (a way to tray them at home).
  • Forbid the survivor from seeing friends or family because of the risk.
  • Downplay the risk and force the survivor to leave the house, or threaten to kick them out and expose them to the virus.
  • Limit sharing critical information about the virus with survivors.

Make sure the information you’re receiving about COVID-19 and the response recommendations are correct by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The CDC also lists the symptoms for COVID-19 and gives instructions for what to do if you suspect you are infected.

Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, tells USA Today that a woman called the hotline to say an abusive partner doesn’t believe in medical treatment, so he’s forcing her to wash her hands each day until they’re raw. Another young girl called because she’s afraid of being quarantined with her mother and her mother’s abusive partner. She typically gets support from her school counselor, but now school is closed.

Recently the organization DomesticShelters.org posed the question on Facebook: Are any survivors worried about a quarantine with an abusive partner in the home? The replies ranged from “Yes yes yes” to “That’s my biggest fear.” A survivor named “Abby” (name changed for protection) told DomesticShelters.org that she recently escaped a physically and verbally abusive partner of nine years. Even though she has her own home, the abuser has been trying to convince her and her children they should be staying with him right now.

“He’s … not wanting me to leave his house. He’s telling me what I should do, and to stay at his house. I told him I want to stay the night at my house and he gets upset.”

Safety Planning for a Quarantine

Coming up with a plan of what you can do will take away some of the anxiety about the unknown. If you’re afraid of being trapped in a home with an abusive partner, walk through the possible scenarios and decide ahead of time what your response will be.

  • Do I feel like my health and my children’s health will be put at risk if I’m quarantined with my partner?
  • Is there anywhere else I can go where I will be safe for an extended period of time?
  • Have I contacted a domestic violence advocate near mefor options in my community?
  • Is there a friend or family member I can stay with if shelters are full?
  • If I’m afraid of leaving without my pets, can I find a safe place for them to go?

Martha’s House is available 24hrs a day to talk with you about your circumstances and help you make a safety plan that’s personalized for you. Just call us at 863-763-0202.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline warns that abusers may implement tactics such as withholding necessary supplies like medication, hand sanitizer, insurance cards or may prevent survivors from seeking medical care.

Also important to note: Most shelters do not discriminate against survivors who are sick, nor would they ask a survivor to leave if they became sick. Martha’s House is open and available to all victims of domestic violence regardless of health status. Feel free to call us at any time.

Finally, even if survivors choose to stay with an abuser during a quarantine, self-care is vitally important. Stress can lower one’s immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses. Everyone should make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, eating healthy and finding a support system in some capacity.

It is easy to ignore this message. Please don’t. We and the thousands of people who use this non-profit website to prevent and escape domestic violence rely on your donations. A gift of $5 helps 25 people, $20 helps 100 people and $100 helps 500 people. Please help keep this valuable resource online.