By: Emma J. Walsh, Staff Writer

Information regarding the coronavirus is constantly changing and evolving. A practice that is of great importance to prevent the spread of the disease is social distancing. Devon Mulligan, USM Campus Safety Project Coordinator, refers to this concept as “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.” She said it is an important distinction to make so we do not lose our social connections to others, but rather to instead maintain a safe physical distance from others. 

Mulligan explained that the recommendation of physical distancing also puts people at a higher risk of domestic violence. “While everyone is being forced inside to increase safety, there are those who may experience decreased safety as a result,” Mulligan said. She continued, stating that domestic violence has been known to increase during times of crisis, and this pandemic has been no different. “Abusive partners capitalize on the fact that their victim can no longer get relief or distance from the abuser, as many folks are working from home or have been let go from their jobs,” Mulligan said. This results in fewer windows of time where the abuser is not present, so there are decreased opportunities to reach out for help. Another aspect of the problem is that children in abusive homes are now also witnessing violence. 

In an email to students, Mulligan recommended resources for domestic violence. These include The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and National Domestic Violence Hotline. She also recommended Through These Doors and Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine. These resources are confidential and available 24/7. A USM resource is Sarah Holmes, Deputy Title IX Coordinator ([email protected]e.edu). 

Mulligan suggests keeping a safe physical distance, but still keeping in touch with friends through means such as the phone. 

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