Invisible Snitches

All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed, they must rely exclusively on force.

~George Orwell

M. Jane Letty/Media Ferret:3 minute read

Feature Article/Non-Fiction/Current Events

Originally, I’d drafted a piece to highlight the message of hope NYC must’ve felt at the sight of the USNS Comfort rolling into port in response to calls for medical reinforcement. Another feature of that piece I’d hoped to share was the subtle message the names of these ships and the locations where they were sent to revealed: Comfort to NYC, because after 9/11 surely the scenes once again dominating the city must’ve been distressing; Mercy to LA, as a gesture to encourage a cease fire of warring ideologies in a time of crisis, which appears to have been graciously embraced by CA Governor Gavin Newsom. However, while it may appear coughing up a barb-wire would’ve been easier for NY Governor Cuomo than it was to thank President Trump, New Yorker’s have this thing about yielding to another. They just do. But, that bizarre Orwellian-style lighting of the Empire State Building in alarming red and watchtower spotlight, although intended as a tribute to healthcare workers, cancelled out much needed reassurance of calm and tone-deaf.  

Speaking of tone-deaf…

A segment airing on the tv about how many families were coping while confined to their homes in the hope of flattening the curve was interrupted by a press briefing from Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that compelled me to scrap the original piece so to call attention to his alarming message:

“If any non-essential businesses continue to operate in violation of the stay at home order, we’re going to act to enforce the safer at home order and ensure their compliance,” Garcetti said. “You know the old expression about snitches. Well, in this case, snitches get rewards.”

Garcetti’s office has already sent the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to 144 of the more than 500 non-essential businesses that failed to follow his order. Of those, four have been sent to the city attorney’s office for misdemeanor charges.

The mayor’s team encouraged residents to submit business violations here, on the city website. It’s unclear what the so-called “rewards” will be (if anything). ~Beth Baumann, TownHall

To be fair, I searched for a similar call to the public as aggressive about domestic violence, child and/or elder abuse—finding none. Despite Garcetti’s March 16, 2020 media briefing offering a message to mitigate common stressors of domestic violence and child/elder abuse, (rental deferments, utility and food security, etc.,) his tone-deafness was astounding. Echoing the Democrat motto, “Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste” in his next media briefing April 3, 2020, Garcetti did not address those who are not Safer at Home. No mention April is National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention month, either. No creation of an Ambassadorship for neighbors reporting suspected or witnessed abuse with the ease—and convenience—of the online Complaint Intake Form for Alleged Businesses in Violation of the Safer at Home Order, encouraging an historically repugnant culture of neighbor against neighbor. Why not an Executive Order increasing the penalties, such as making ANY substantiated complaint of domestic violence, child or elder abuse to include a charge of unlawful restraint?

Perhaps in his euphoria at the chance to let his inner-tyrant out, he didn’t consider how reassuring a recorded PSA to air periodically letting victims know, despite the health crisis, to call 911 and law enforcement will still respond could make all the difference to let them know help is available. Or, how effective a warning-style PSA would give the first-time abuser an opportunity to refrain or the threat of a few years in prison to curb routine abusers.

It’s estimated there are 74 million children in the United States. Of that, 7.5 million reports of child abuse are received, annually. The aging population, Baby Boomers and the waning Greatest Generation present another dynamic but is no less worth considering their vulnerability during this health crisis. They’re also at risk of being abused on top of potentially falling ill or dying.  Until 28 days ago, many of them had the sanctuary of being in school or the absence of their (now unemployed) abuser’s presence. Can you just imagine what kind of hell it must be for a child to be in quarantine with no escape or temporary relief? Abuse is a brutal act that often results in injury requiring medical attention. It is unlikely the abuser will risk catching COVID-19 to seek medical attention for their victim at a local emergency room. Of the more insidious abuses, the psychological damage of not only the primary abuse, but is compounded when held captive as a secondary abuse.  

Domestic Violence encompasses child, spouse, elder. Abuse inflicted on anyone in another’s care or in a relationship, while in a domestic environment, in the eyes of the law, it’s domestic violence. Unfortunately, the political class has fomented mistrust and hatred toward law enforcement in some communities. As a result, victims may not seek or could be prevented from reaching out to police. This national crisis, while it provides the best opportunity for abusers to take full advantage of the resources being diverted, it also presents those of us who might be the only protection they have to keep our eyes peeled, our ears open, and our heart’s receptive to the call to help our neighbor, instead of “snitching” on them for far less important purposes.  If you see, suspect, or are a victim of abuse, please call 911. Your snitches could save someone stitches.

This wasn’t an easy topic to read, but I appreciate that you took the time and, you’ll help someone if given an opportunity. After the nation, (and world) recovers and norms resume, please bear in mind that what we don’t see might come to light. We’ll never completely end domestic, child/elder abuse. But, let’s be good stewards. Due to the nature of this topic and the urgency of awareness, I’m asking that you please share this article as it offers invaluable contact information, below, someone you might not know needed. Or, reach out to your elected officials and encourage them to air a PSA or extend their concern during press briefings. Thank you for reading…and for caring. The topics going forward won’t be a PSA, I promise. Nor will I ask you to share them. As both an adult survivor of child abuse and a (retired) long-term care and correctional nurse, it’s personal.  As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged. ~MJL



ProCPR provides training to public health and safety professionals who are mandated to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect or enforce laws as warranted. Even the description of the video is direct: “Gain knowledge on how to recognize true abuse and neglect to help protect the innocent. Neglect can be a failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, and medical attention. Physical abuse is a non-accidental physical injury. It can be an intentional act of physical abuse. Sexual abuse is any illegal sexual activity such as rape, fondling, child prostitution, child pornography, incest, etc.”

The American SPCC (Society of Positive Care of Children) offered the most linear and comprehensive statistics, which I encourage you to explore. The statistics listed are presented in a straightforward manner, which I found helpful to appreciate the gravity of this issue without the tendency to look away.

NPT Reports covers the other side of the life cycle, the elderly. The video and description: “It is estimated that one in ten adults over the age of 60 is a victim. But the truth is we don’t know for certain how many older adults are suffering from abuse. In “Aging Matters: Abuse & Exploitation”, Nashville Public Television explores the issues behind elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.”    

Another worthwhile video to watch, is an AWARD WINNING Short Film on Domestic Violence – SCOPE OF PRACTICE by BeWILdered Media Productions. Described as “Scope of Practice is about a newly hired EMT who decides to risk his life and career to take a stand against a local hometown hero who is abusing his wife.” Although it might come across as a Lifetime Movie Channel drama, it isn’t. What is does offer is a very profoundly disturbing crossing over the threshold and invites the viewer behind those doors where the privacy of domestic abuse thrives.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has been a reliable and steady resource for victims over 20 years. Below, they offer some COVID-19 specific information.  

               Here’s how COVID-19 could uniquely impact intimate partner violence survivors:

  • Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
  • Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
  • Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.
  • Programs that serve survivors may be significantly impacted –- shelters may be full or may even stop intakes altogether. Survivors may also fear entering shelter because of being in close quarters with groups of people.
  • Survivors who are older or have chronic heart or lung conditions may be at increased risk in public places where they would typically get support, like shelters, counseling centers, or courthouses.
  • Travel restrictions may impact a survivor’s escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for them to use public transportation or to fly.
  • An abusive partner may feel more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.

Here’s what our Advocates have heard from some survivors reaching out:

  • “A chatter mentioned that the abuser was using the virus as a scare tactic to keep the survivor away from their kids.”
  • A chatter said the abuser was using COVID-19 as a scare tactic so that they would not visit family.”
  • “A health professional still living with their abuser called and said they were physically abused that night because their abuser was sure they were trying to infect them with COVID-19.

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