Catastrophes and Domestic Violence in Nevada

From July 14 until the 23rd, a heat wave in Nevada killed 17 people. The temperature soared to 117 degrees and is the worst natural disaster in the state in modern history.

While high temperatures aren’t as sexy as hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes, the stress levels of residents can be the same and aggravate many of the same problems facing individuals and families when storms hit the east coast.

Natural disasters may displace people and leave them desperately seeking stability and routine.

Victims of domestic violence face a special challenge during catastrophes as they seek safety from their abuser in addition to everything else. Survivors are up against a “double whammy” of escaping the danger from their abuser as well as seeking safety from a looming disaster.

While disasters leave physical and social environments in disarray, they also increase vulnerability to violence. Loss of property, insufficient food and water, an unraveling social network and income loss boosts stress levels during disasters. Those ingredients may leave domestic abuse victims especially vulnerable.

Following a natural disaster, women seeking services and help are challenged more as emergency responders are often overwhelmed. Domestic violence victims are often left to fend for themselves.

A 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control says roughly 42 million women in America have experienced domestic violence.

Reports from the Bureau of Justice says over 30% of female homicide victims are murdered by their partners annually. Some studies push the figure as high as 50%.

Children can compound problems for domestic violence survivors as schools and day care centers close down, and custody arrangements might leave victims separated from their kids.

“Ever knows someone impacted by domestic violence,” says Nicholas Wooldridge, a well-known Las Vegas criminal defense attorney.

“Public awareness is crucial to the state’s efforts to tell survivors they are not alone.”Domestic violence is not only physical. It is just one tactic used to control another person within an intimate relationship. Just a few indicators of domestic violence include:

  • Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking and shoving
  • Threatening harm
  • Abusing pets
  • Sudden outbursts of anger
  • Is jealous without reason
  • Isolates their partner
  • Prevents their partner from going where they want
  • Interference with work or school

Las Vegas has 24/7 hotlines serving each county. Many programs provide child services, support groups and aid with legal issues as well as emergency transportation and housing. Call 1-800-799-7233 to find a program near you.