The story earlier this week of an Ysleta Independent School District student whose family exploded in domestic violence and ultimately ended in an arrest after a SWAT standoff brought the issue of how domestic violence victims have become trapped in their homes during the pandemic. Victims who could have asked for help at their workplace or school or told a friend when they were out of the house may not have that avenue anymore.

The pandemic stay-at-home orders may be lifting in Texas and across the nation but for many kids, the safety of the classroom setting isn't there right now because schools are still slowly reopening. School officials who could have spotted the signs of abuse like unexplainable injuries or signs of neglect like dirty clothes and malnutrition now have to rely on what they can see on a video screen. Many school districts are holding special training to spot signs that might not be so obvious on a computer screen.

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Locally the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence has many programs that can help victims of domestic violence, but what if they can't verbally say that they need help because their abuser is over their shoulder as they are on a video call? There is a way for abuse victims to non-verbally ask for help. This 30 second video showing the sign someone could make could be the difference between life and death:

It's a tough conversation to have but if you suspect that there is abuse in the home, try to get the victim to call you from a more secure phone or text you. But if you see this signal, don't hesitate to act. You can call 9-1-1 and if it turns out that nothing is wrong, you might be embarrassed but if it turns out that there is abuse in the home, you might save someone's life.

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