College HUNKS moving company will help DV survivors relocate for free.
College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving, a company based in the U.S. and Canada, has launched a new initiative to help victims of domestic violence (DV) leave abusive homes at no cost. The moving company is using its manpower, and working alongside DV shelters, to ensure these victims remain safe as they haul away their belongings. To date, the program has already led to more than 100 free moves.
The service is especially vital now that the pandemic and social isolation have caused an uptick in the number of domestic violence reports worldwide. A recent study, for example, found a significant year-over-year increase this fall in intimate partner violence (IPV) cases among patients seeking emergency care at a major Massachusetts hospital.
“This data confirms what we suspected,” said study co-author and senior director of community health intervention and prevention programs at the hospital, Mardi Chadwick Balcom. “Being confined to home for a period of time would increase the possibility for violence between intimate partners.”
“And the new study probably exposes only the tip of the iceberg,” added co-author Dr. Bharti Khurana, head of its trauma imaging research and innovation center.
The data gathered centered around the results of radiology scans at the hospital between March 11 and May 3, 2020, during which the state had issued an emergency notice shutting down many places of employment, schools, and other public facilities. “The scans identified 26 patients with injuries consistent with either superficial wounds or serious abuse,” the hospital records show.
What’s more, the study detailed horrific accounts of serious injuries sustained by abuse victims seeking care. “During spring 2020, the hospital treated 28 serious domestic abuse injuries (with some patients sustaining more than one). Such ‘deep’ injuries resulted from strangulation, stabbing, burns and/or the use of knives or guns,” the study reported.
The injuries were attributed primarily to social isolation and being forced to spend extra time in close quarters with an abuser. Pre-COVID, even if IPV was occurring, victims were commonly away from their abusive partners for a significant portion of the day. Balcom explained, “Isolation is a big risk factor in [intimate partner violence and] COVID-19 has increased isolation both physically and socially for so many people.”
“I definitely think our Free Moves for Survivors of Domestic Violence program sheds light on a really important issue that is not often talked about,” College Hunks co-founder Nick Friedman said. “As a purpose driven, socially-conscious organization we’re always looking for ways to positively impact our communities. In this case, particularly for those who feel powerless in unhealthy home situations.”
Five years ago, Meathead Movers also began to offer free moves to IPV victims, and in 2019, the company donated more than $150,000 worth of moving services, partnering with eight California-based domestic violence shelters. Now, College HUNKS is hoping to broaden this effort, utilizing its 131 franchise locations. The company asks that victims first contact their local shelter, which will will then coordinate the free move and provide support throughout the transition process.