Russell I. Marnell Offers Advice for Victims of Domestic Abuse during Coronavirus Lockdown
With the growing number of reported domestic violence (DV) cases during the coronavirus lockdown, Russell I. Marnell of Marnell Law Group, P.C. says victims should call for help from both the police and legal counsel, and build a case against their abuser.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a 25% increase in DV survivors calling the hotline between March 16 and April 5, 2020; the callers cited the coronavirus lockdown as “a condition of their experience.” Data from The Marshall Project showed that, in Suffolk County, there was an 18% increase in calls reporting domestic violence to the police, while Nassau County police received 10% more DV calls during the lockdown.
“As couples become isolated from the outside world, the abuse becomes more frequent,” Mr. Marnell says. “There are also external factors that contribute to the abuse — layoffs, loss of business, loss of income and the financial strain that comes with it.”
Children are not immune to domestic abuse, either. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a child witnesses 22% of DV cases filed in state courts, and 30% to 60% of the perpetrators abuse children in the household. In addition. 40% of abused children report DV in the home.
“We have received several inquiries about orders of protection, threats of spousal violence and parenting issues during the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr. Marnell says. “The initial inquiry is whether or not there has been a family offense — such as harassment, assault, menacing, etc. — which is required to obtain an order of protection, then whether it would be appropriate to seek a stay away directive as part of the order.”
If there is a DV incident, Mr. Marnell strongly recommends calling the police and collecting as much evidence as possible against the abuser. “Secretly tape recording the perpetrator — and doing it legally — as well as taking pictures of injuries, weapons and damage to property would be helpful,” he says. “Victims should seek medical treatment for their injuries, which will help their claims of domestic violence.”
The New York State Unified Court System has deemed filing temporary orders of protection and emergency family offense petitions in Family Court as essential. Filing temporary orders of protection, including but not limited to matters involving domestic violence, in state Supreme Court is also considered essential. “If you are in an abusive situation and you are seeking protection, contact a divorce or family law attorney immediately,” Mr. Marnell says.
For more information, call (516) 542-9000 or visit www.marnelllaw.com.