Hospital News

The April 2020 UPMC Western Maryland Population Health initiative is physical and verbal abuse.


The April 2020 UPMC Western Maryland Population Health initiative is physical and verbal abuse.

Maintaining safety when living with an abusive partner is difficult under the best of circumstances. However, with COVID-19 causing many people to telework and practice social distancing, victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) may find themselves confined at home with their abuser for extended periods of time.

The National Domestic Violence hotline has listed a number of ways that abusive partners could use COVID-19 to impact victims of IPV including:

  • Withholding items ranging from hand sanitizer to medical insurance cards.
  • Sharing misinformation about COVID-19 or preventing partners from seeking treatment.
  • Utilizing the pandemic as an excuse for isolation.

Furthermore, for IPV survivors who try to leave an abusive partner during the pandemic, there are other issues including:

  • Shelters being full or quarantined.
  • Survivors’ fear of using shelters, hospitals, or courthouses to get help due to fear of contracting COVID-19.
  • Local public transportation as well as long-distance bus, train, and plane service being interrupted due to the virus, which might effect a survivor’s ability to use their safety plan.
  • Special Safety Planning Tips during COVID-19:

Call your local domestic violence service provider to help create an individualized safety plan specific to your circumstances and location. If you are not able to call your local service provider or shelter, try creating an alternative exit plan if original one is compromised due to COVID-19. For example, if original plan was to fly to relative and that is not currently possible, check on availability of local shelters and/or local family, friends, colleagues, etc.

Many insurance companies allow you to print your cards online. If your abuser holds your insurance card, make a copy and keep it in your “go-bag” if you have one, and if not, in as safe a place as possible.

Keep yourself as informed as possible about the current status of COVID-19 in your location. Information is coming quickly and changing rapidly, so keeping informed is important and will neutralize false information your abuser may try to provide.

Remember that not as many people will be on the streets and that many places are closed, so if you have to leave quickly to seek help, know where you are going and make sure it is open. Know where your local law enforcement station is, if that is necessary.

Police Departments are following CDC and public official guidance for safety and health. If you place a 911 call, you may be asked additional questions to assess for any symptoms of COVID-19 you might have so that law enforcement is prepared when arriving to the scene.


In Maryland:

There were 46 domestic violence-related deaths in Maryland last year (July 2017-June 2018).

The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence tracks domestic violence-related deaths in Maryland and releases the statistics in February of each year. More information about the 46 victims here.

  • In one day, 956 victims of domestic violence were served in Maryland.
  • On September 14, 2016, 22 domestic violence programs in Maryland participated in the National Census of Domestic Violence Services. On that day, 956 victims were served: 407 found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by the local domestic violence programs, and 549 adults and children received non-residential assistance and services, including counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support groups.
  • There were 1,784 Temporary Protective Orders and 1,308 Final Protective Orders granted (Fiscal Year 2017)
  • The Maryland Judiciary periodically publishes information about protective orders issued in Maryland.
  • There were 15,301 Domestic Violence-Related Crimes in Maryland last year (Fiscal Year 2016)
  • The latest domestic violence statistics reported by the Maryland State Police is Crime in Maryland: 2016 Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Please keep in mind that these crimes are only the ones that were reported to police, and that many victims do not report crimes to the police.

In the US:

  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men report having been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • 30-60% of perpetrators of partner abuse also abused the children in the household.
  • Center for Disease Control & Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention & Control
  • 50-60% of women receiving welfare have been victims of domestic violence as adults.
  • 32% of women sought help at hospital emergency rooms, inpatient units or ambulatory care for injures specifically resulting from the abuse.
  • Average health care costs for women with a history of abuse were $1700 higher than never-abused women over 3 year period.
  • Costs of intimate partner violence exceed $5.8 billion each year, including: $4.1 billion in direct health care services, $900 million in lost productivity, and $900 million in lifetime earnings.

For help if you or someone you know is being abused, call the Allegany County help line at 301-759-9244.