Dear Carolyn:

I am a school teacher of small children. The other teachers and I are sharing stories of abuse the children are suffering at home during COVID-19. I just wanted to make you and your readers aware of the violence problem COVID is creating for the most vulnerable among us. What are your thoughts?


Carolyn Answers:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. With COVID-19, it is an apt time for more domestic violence awareness. The Greensboro Police Department reports a 70 percent increase in child abuse in August. Guilford County is up 250 percent in domestic homicides for 2020 over 2019. Intimate partner domestic violence is a pandemic within a pandemic.

A study out of Boston at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of radiology scans between March 11 and May 3, 2020, identified 26 patients with wounds (broken bones, for example) consistent with domestic abuse. Twenty-six is double the number for the same period for years 2018 and 2019 combined. Stay-home orders left intimate partners and children trapped with their domestic abuser. Domestic partner abuse can be physical abuse, but it also can be emotional, sexual or psychological. Domestic abuse spans all socioeconomic groups, but indeed financial hard times with COVID-19 layoffs exacerbate the problem.

How do we as a society solve domestic violence? Solve is probably an aspiration, but on a day-to-day basis, domestic violence can be mitigated on a case-by-case basis. Keeping it simple, let’s focus on words and actions in the home.

First, words. Watch what you say. Be kind. “Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.” Proverbs 20:15. Second actions. Do not discipline a child while you are angry. Back away from any physical violence or aggression of an intimate partner. Please get help if you need it. Guilford County has at least two safe houses operated by Family Service of the Piedmont. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233).


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…” “Ask Carolyn…” will be a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.