Domestic violence a risk for isolated

Survivor works as an advocate for others

- Grace Hauck

CHICAGO – Living alone with her two dogs, working remotely as a high school Spanish teacher and distancing from her parents because of COVID-19, Sarah Manos said she felt a little less lonely last April when the man she met on Bumble started buying her flowers.

But two months later, after the man tried to cut Manos off from friends and family and allegedly killed her two dogs, she discreetly packed her bags, fled to her parents’ house and called the National Domestic Violence Hotline, according to a civil suit Manos filed last week in Cook County circuit court.

“He wouldn’t have gotten his claws into me if I hadn’t been isolated,” said Manos, 27. County prosecutor­s did not charge the man, so Manos said she filed the lawsuit because she didn’t “want anyone else to suffer through what I went through. No matter how alone they make you feel, you truly are not alone.”

Nearly a year since the first coronaviru­s stay-at-home orders went into effect in the U.S., advocates are warning that survivors continue to be at high risk of domestic violence. With schools closed and many people laid off or working remotely, survivors may be in closer proximity to their abusers with fewer ways to access support services, less financial independen­ce and greater fears about the safety of seeking services amid COVID-19.

“It’s been a real challenge for advocates and survivors,” said Ruth Glenn, president of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Not only have they had barriers they’ve had to navigate to seek safety when they’re ready, but they now have an added barrier of a pandemic. It becomes a tool for the person that’s causing harm – another tool to further control and exert power.”

Domestic violence incidents in the U.S. have increased by 8.1% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to estimates released Wednesday by

 ?? PROVIDED BY SARAH MANOS ?? Sarah Manos in Chicago in February 2020.
PROVIDED BY SARAH MANOS Sarah Manos in Chicago in February 2020.

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