Survivors Speak Out Amid Domestic Violence Crisis Exacerbated by COVID-19

COVID-19 is being used as a strategy to further intimidate, isolate, create fear and abuse survivors, experts say.

It’s estimated that a woman is beaten by her partner every nine seconds in the United States — a harrowing domestic violence statistic that is worsening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One woman named Melissa says her ex-husband Corey Ater is a “textbook abuser” who broke into her house at night and tortured her for 16 hours until she finally escaped.

Corey has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including domestic violence, but Melissa fears that due to the pandemic, he will be released from jail early as he awaits trial. She is now in hiding.

Zariah Clayton was brought to tears reliving the abuse she says her mother Shanae suffered at the hands of her boyfriend during the pandemic. She says disturbing video she recorded of Roderick Washington is an example of the verbal abuse he unleashed.

Washington allegedly shot and killed Shanae when she tried to leave him. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

“Cancer couldn't take her down, COVID couldn't take her down, but domestic violence did, and that's what breaks my heart the most,” Zariah told Inside Edition.

Experts say the pandemic is affecting survivors of domestic violence like never before. Isolation, financial strain from soaring unemployment and lockdown orders are all coming together to create a pandemic within a pandemic.

“What we’ve seen from survivors is that the abuse has increased in intensity and in frequency,” Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, told Inside Edition. “We’ve had nearly 22,000 individuals reach out and indicate that COVID is being used as a strategy to either further intimidate, isolate, create fear and even abuse the survivor themselves.”

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or visit Calls are toll-free and confidential.