There is no flattening the curve when it comes to sexual violence - especially during the pandemic.
We need you to stand by the VRLC.
The Pandemic's Impact on Survivors
Survivors Trapped at Home
Sexual violence has not stopped during the pandemic. Reports of abuse initially decreased as many survivors were trapped with their abusers and lacked access to reach out for help privately.
As restrictions have begun to lift, we have seen a 30% increase in calls for legal help since June. We have answered the call to over 200 survivors since the pandemic.
Increased Survivor Needs
The most prominent needs for survivors are currently:
- Emergency restraining orders for safety;
- Emergency housing support for those facing evictions; and
- Securing a safe return to their education through remote representation.
Spike in Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse victims are not safe in their own homes as abusers often live with or near them. Without access to schools and summer activities, children have few outlets to disclose abuse and get help. Learn More.
Kamal’s Story: Kamal is a 9-year-old who was sexually abused by a neighbor. He was afraid to leave his home out of fear of being assaulted again. His VRLC attorney represented him in court virtually and secured a restraining order against the neighbor. As quarantine restrictions have begun to lift, Kamal feels safe riding his bike around the neighborhood again.
Racial Disparities Among Survivors
Black, Indigenous, and people of color have historically received lower-quality healthcare than white people. BIPOC communities continue to be at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 as a result of systemic health and social inequalities.
Systemic oppression has also historically created barriers for BIPOC to report rape and sexual violence caused by cultural stigmas, institutional racism within the criminal justice system, law enforcement, and healthcare. The pandemic has made it even harder for BIPOC rape and sexual assault victims to access healthcare.
Abusers Target Immigrants
Undocumented immigrants are often targeted for sexual violence by perpetrators who intimidate them into silence by threatening to report their immigration status to law enforcement. Undocumented immigrants are more susceptible to sexual assault in the workplace, but the pandemic has created heightened fear of being jobless or deported. Immigrant sexual assault survivors have legal rights to access help.
New Title IX Regulations
In May 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released new Title IX regulations that narrow protections for student survivors during the pandemic. Many of our college clients have returned to their homes all over the world. While these cases have become significantly complex, we are working to account for the new regulations (that go into effect in August) and virtually fight for their rights, so they can safely return to their education post-assault.
Our work of providing free legal assistance has become more complex because of the pandemic.
Since March, we transitioned our legal services to provide survivors with remote legal advice and representation. Our work has increased in time, energy, and resources to help survivors navigate their legal options during this unprecedented time.
The pandemic has created isolation and limited access to traditional support systems for many survivors. Abuse has spiked for child sexual abuse and intimate partner sexual violence. Many victims are currently trapped with their abusers until stay-at-home restrictions are fully lifted.
As quarantine restrictions fully lift, we anticipate a surge of survivors coming forward all at once in need of legal assistance. Since June, we have received a 30% increase in calls. We are here to help as survivors come forward to navigate their legal options.
The VRLC remains dedicated to providing legal services during the pandemic – we have answered the call to over 200 survivors since March. In order to continue to help every survivor, we need your support.
You can be the light for the survivors who need us most.
Thank you to our Be The Light Supporters!
Illumination Contributors ($10,000)
Brenda and Rick Sharton
Al Tringali and Stacy Malone
Radiance Contributors ($5,000)
Andrea Robinson and Jonathan Talamo
Beacon Contributors ($2,500)
Rebecca and Allan Chasen
Kevin and Janice Roden
Shine Contributors ($1,000)
Birgitta Dickerson and James Crowley
Maegan and PJ Wilkinson