People in Virginia who are victims of domestic violence may be particularly vulnerable during disasters, and domestic violence professionals should work with first responders and others involved in recovery to ensure that they remain safe. The stress and potential lack of access to water, food and shelter can not only compound existing situations that include domestic violence but may affect families who are recovering as well. A framework for dealing with domestic violence may need to be adapted during a disaster.
First responders may need to work with shelters to help transport victims to them and to ensure that their needs are met. As a community is recovering, professionals should look to connecting domestic violence victims to long-term resources and social supports.
Professionals and communities can also take steps to help prepare and lessen the fallout from domestic violence situations during a disaster. A partnership between such groups as law enforcement and disaster responders, who are typically active in the aftermath of a disaster, and domestic violence organizations can set the groundwork for mitigating these situations. First responders and other emergency management professionals could be trained to deal with situations of domestic violence during a disaster.
While a disaster may exacerbate domestic violence situations, they can occur during any other time as well. When it does happen, it may be necessary for a person to take out a protective order. Both those who take out a protective order and those who are the focus of the order may have a number of questions about the process and its repercussions including its impact on child custody. In some cases, domestic violence could result in one parent only being permitted supervised visitation with a child.