Naomi Schanfield: I'm going to speak briefly today about how to protect yourself from domestic violence, specifically during this Coronavirus pandemic. Due to the "Shelter in Place" orders within New York City, people are spending almost all their time at home, socially isolated from friends, family members, and co-workers.
Unfortunately, due to this increased stress that everyone is facing from the pandemic, whether that be fear of the virus, financial stress, or generalized anxiety, instances of domestic violence are unfortunately on the rise within New York City.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, here are some helpful guidelines:
Number one. If you fear for your immediate safety, you should absolutely dial 9-1-1. NYPD is working, and they want to assure the safety of all victims of domestic violence. That being said, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the police are stretched thin. When dialing 9-1-1, you need to clearly articulate your concern, such as, "I'm fearful for my safety," or, "I'm fearful for my life." "My spouse just shoved me. Please send a police officer right away."
Number two. If for some reason the police are not responsive or you do not want to call the police for some reason, you can absolutely file for an Order of Protection, and New York courts are open for all emergency issues including, Orders of Protection. In Manhattan, Family Court is located at 60 Lafayette Street. If you live outside of Manhattan, you can easily Google the location of your local county Family Court.
Number three. If you are not safe in your home and for some reason, the police are not responsive, you should leave the premises immediately. Find out if either a friend or family member has an empty room in their apartment in which you could reside temporarily.
If you do not have anywhere to go, you can call the Manhattan District Attorney's Domestic Violence Hotline at 212-335-4308. Furthermore, if you find that you're not in immediate danger and you do not plan on leaving right away, you should absolutely come up with a safety plan. Meaning, you should have a bag packed and ready to go at a moment's notice, and you should know exactly where you could go if necessary.
Also, I just want to address that if you're concerned that your partner may call the police or obtain an Order of Protection against you based on false accusations, you should also leave the premises right away so that you do not risk being on the back end of an Order of Protection at this time.
I understand that not all these issues are simple, and they can certainly become more complicated if children are involved, but you should always do whatever is necessary to keep yourself and your children safe.
You should not feel that you have to remain in an abusive relationship due to this pandemic. If you need an experienced attorney, please do not hesitate to call our firm at 212.682.6222.