Social Distancing: Inconvenience or Imminent Danger?

“I’m so sick of being in quarantine.” “I’m so bored.” “Social distancing sucks.” 

I’ve heard these three statements from myself and the people I know more in the last three weeks than ever before. 

Many of my friends and loved ones are missing their twenty-first birthdays, a study abroad trip or precious time with family members. For most college students specifically, the outbreak of COVID-19 has put them back in their hometown, but they’re unable to interact with extended family or friends whom they haven’t seen in months. 

So yes, social distancing sucks. But for most, it is merely an inconvenience. For some, it is life-threatening.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence rates have risen worldwide. According to an article written by the New York Times, due to the number of individuals on house arrest to prevent the spread of the disease, domestic abuse hotlines are lighting up around the world.

What’s worse, the resources typically available for victims of such abuse are no longer immediately at hand. Whether it be the overwhelming amount of reports or a lack of those able to work at crisis centers, individuals suffering from abuse may not have a choice other than to try to survive. 

But a rise in violence has not been limited to within households. 

Céline, a French native whose last name has been removed for privacy, has been practicing proper social distancing for weeks but recently needed to go to a bank in Paris to renew her credit card. Because she lives in the suburbs of France, she decided to ride her bike, which would avoid public transportation. 

On her way there, nothing out of the ordinary happened. However, on her trip back home she was harassed by a group of men. One man in particular chased her as she rode her bike.

“He was literally running after me. He was laughing and I suppose doing this to impress his friends, but I was terrified because at one point he was close enough to grab me,” Céline said. 

After biking a far enough distance away from the men chasing her, two motorbikes of different men pulled up alongside her, making rude comments and gestures. 

“They made me feel like I was not safe in the public space…Since not a lot of people were in the streets, they felt even more than the usual that they were allowed to do anything,” Céline said. “It was the first time that I got out far from my apartment, and I feel like social distancing and the coronavirus made the outside and the public space more scary.”

After catching her breath, a police officer approached Céline, asking why she was out in the street, rather than in her home. She explained the situation and the officer was “polite” and let her go. 

However, those same officers did not show the same courtesy to a neighboring man who was not white and could not speak fluent French. According to Céline, the officers swore and spoke “very rudely” to the other pedestrian, which brought up a different and equally alarming issue. 

“This outing was very frustrating and made me mad because I witnessed the fact that I have white privilege and the fact that men still enjoy making me feel the pressure of their own privilege, at the same time,” Céline concluded. 

While Céline might not be encountering domestic abuse in her home, her story is one of many instances of an increase in violence due to the current pandemic. 

I might miss my raging twenty-first birthday party, but men of color are being harassed by police forces for being outside. 

I might have to eat pasta multiple times in a week, but elementary school children are trapped in a house with a violent parent because going to school was their safe place. 

I might get tired of spending so much time with the same three people, but wives are unable to escape their abusive husband or file for divorce. 

So yes, being in quarantine sucks.

But for me, it is inconvenient. For someone else, it is an imminent danger. 

 

Story by: Amanda Walton
life@suunews.net
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.com

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