In March, A learned from the agency supervising her son’s court-mandated visitations with his father—her abusive ex-husband—that their visits would have to go virtual because of the coronavirus outbreak. She started preparing by taking out all her extra bed sheets and attempting to cover the windows. She couldn’t take any chances. Even a glimpse outside her New York City windows could be enough to help the man who’d violently abused her discover her address.
A is dreading her son’s first video visit with his father, set to take place whenever the agency sets a date. Before the pandemic, she could drop her son off with her ex-husband at a safe, public location, such as outside a marketplace near her mom’s house. Now she’ll have to let her ex into her apartment, albeit virtually, and that scares her.
“Hearing the voice of my child’s father only reminds me of the last words he threatened me with, so I have to admit it’s traumatizing to think about hearing him,” A, whom I’m identifying by her first initial to protect her safety and privacy, wrote to me in an email. Though she has been separated from her ex for a few years, she says he would continue to harass her whenever they met up for their child’s visits. While they were together, A’s ex strangled her and beat her in front of their son. She’s worried about what her ex might see on a virtual call. Her son has a habit of pointing the camera out the window when he’s chatting with family and friends, and she fears that if he does so during virtual visits with his father, it might lead her ex right back to them.