It’s spring in New York City, and Patricia Ross is on the phone. Warm weather has just come to Brooklyn. In normal times, the streets would be pressed with crowds of revelers, giddy with sun. But these are not normal times. For the past two months, since the coronavirus gripped New York, sirens have echoed in the streets, filling the gaps left by absent laughter and silenced speaker beats.
Ross is the Executive Director and clinical supervisor of the North Brooklyn Coalition, an anti-domestic and sexual violence advocacy organization serving survivors in some of Brooklyn’s most historically underresourced — and now rapidly gentrifying — neighborhoods. Since New York’s Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio issued stay-at-home orders in March, Ross and her staff have fielded calls from home. Their clients are largely Black and Latinx, low-income women. They’ve long been on the short end of structural inequality, a fact that makes them more vulnerable to abuse — and more vulnerable to the economic, medical, and social fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.