Life in the Time of Coronavirus

I Moved Into a Domestic Violence Shelter and Haven’t Seen My Son In Weeks

A series about how coronavirus affects our lives, our loved ones, our work, and our way of life

Sylvia A. Harvey (SAH)
Published in
4 min readApr 7, 2020
Photo illustration. Image sources: Image Source/Getty Images, 4x-image/Getty Images

Life in the Time of Coronavirus is a GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

Nathalie K. is a 32-year-old mother living in a domestic violence shelter in Benton, Arkansas. Her four-month-old son is in foster care, pending an administrative hearing, but the coronavirus outbreak has meant that she hasn’t been able to see him in person.

This article was reported in partnership with Type Investigations.

MyMy son was born in November. His huge dimples and blue eyes greeted the world just after 4:00 in the morning. I was in an abusive relationship at the time with a partner who sold and used drugs, but once I learned I was pregnant, I quit using cold turkey. I’d hoped I could get my partner to join me on my new path, but he didn’t quit, and things didn’t get better. When I went into labor, he didn’t even take me to the hospital; I managed to get there on my own. After the baby was born, he showed up at the hospital, and I felt obliged to go home with him. I should have asked one of the nurses for help, for a way to move forward without him. But I didn’t.

The abuse against me led to my son being placed in foster care. Once that happened, I knew I needed to get away from my toxic relationship. A woman I’d become friendly with helped me find a domestic violence shelter—a place that would support my sobriety and, hopefully, help me get my son back.

I’m supposed to have four-hour visits with my son each week. I hated sitting in the disgusting visiting room at the Department of Human Services. It was small, with one window. Food littered the floor, and it reeked of something awful. Still, I’d…



Sylvia A. Harvey (SAH)
Writer for

A journalist reporting on race, class, and policy. SAH is the author of The Shadow System: Mass Incarceration and the American Family. She tweets as @Ms_SAH