In November 2020, ColorLines reported the results of a study that found that women of color who are survivors of sexual violence have faced disproportionate hardships compared to whites during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, “Measuring the Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Survivors of Color”, conducted in partnership with the organizations me too. and FreeFrom revealed the increased vulnerability faced by African American and Latina women who have also been victims of sexual and intimate partner violence because of the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic. Financial insecurity is greatest among African American and Latina women survivors—leading them to be far more likely to return to abusive partners. These individuals are also dealing with pronounced healthcare, housing, and education inequities.
As of April 2021, only a small amount of research has been done to explore the impacts of racism on survivors of color during this global health crisis. For the study, a survey was developed and distributed via an online survey platform called Qualtrics between June 23, 2020 and July 27, 2020. The survey was also available on the ‘‘me too.’’official website and was posted on social media platforms. 737 individuals who were 18 years or older participated.
The study’s findings revealed a “collision of crises.” The survey found that 83.9 percent of survivors of color who were essential workers during the pandemic faced food insecurity compared to 57.4 percent of whites; 78.7 percent of survivors of color who were essential workers during the pandemic faced housing insecurity compared to 56.9 percent of whites; and 50.8 percent of survivors of color who were essential workers during the pandemic faced high economic insecurity compared to 24.8 percent of whites. Some 75 percent of survivors of color had to stop or change their education compared to 54 percent of whites. White women had 5.76 times the number of financial resources than Black and Brown women had during the pandemic, while 38 percent of Black/Brown survivors were unable to pay bills compared to 16 percent of white survivors and these women who had fewer financial resources were far more likely to return to their abuser.
The study also made seven policy recommendations for addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on survivors of color. These recommendations included investments in housing, healthcare, childcare, and programs that enable survivors’ financial freedom.
The effects of the Covid-19 crisis on women of color who are also survivors of sexual violence has received minimal corporate media coverage. The most relevant coverage is a March 2021 article from the New York Times titled “Biden’s Aid Package Funnels Millions to Victims of Domestic Abuse.” This article explained how the President’s pandemic relief plan included millions of dollars for organizations that are dedicated to ending domestic abuse, as well as vouchers for survivors to help them find a safe place to rebuild their lives. The article also included information on the disproportionate impacts on people of color. However, no specific information or data from the study that ColorLines covered was mentioned. The survey that was conducted by “me too.” and “FreeForm” provides a deeper understanding and more detailed description of the real inequities Black and Brown survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence are facing during the COVID-19 crisis.
Source: Shani Saxon, “COVID Causes Long-Term Harm for Sexual Violence Survivors of Color: Report,” ColorLines, November 20, 2020, https://www.colorlines.com/articles/covid-causes-long-term-harm-sexual-violence-survivors-color-report.
Student Researcher: Lindsay Wilkinson (Salisbury University)
Faculty Evaluator: Shannon O’Sullivan (Salisbury University)