Our world is currently hindered, scared, and uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must rely on our community to carry us through dark times and help us find a light within the simple pleasures of life like delicious home-cooked meals, time with our loved ones, and virtual calls with family and friends in other households. Although this downtime can be positive for some, I can't help but feel my heart bleed for a specific group of people that COVID-19 is affecting heavily — those experiencing domestic violence.

The Reaches Of COVID-19

This April is the 19th anniversary of the designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Consistent efforts to bring awareness to this violence is critical to both past and current victims. The COVID-19-related increase in domestic violence crime rates is escalating at an alarming rate. With social distancing being an executive order in most U.S. states and worldwide, for some it means a question of survival. By social distancing they may be avoiding the risk of exposure to coronavirus in the outside world, but the danger within their homes may be all the more deadly.

Survivor, Tanya Selvaratnam, reporting for The New York Times, writes, "The most dangerous place in the world for a woman is her own home." She goes on to inform readers that domestic violence rates have doubled since cities went on lockdown. The drastic decrease in family court hearings, orders for protection raised to only "life or death" matters, and slow operation of the courts are culminating to create even more high-risk scenarios in our global society. Although finding a solution is pressing for the livelihoods of these victims, there are ways we can all help.

At my company, Sambar Kitchen, we are running a special "Buy 1, Give 1" promotion with one of our most popular products throughout the month of April. For every one jar purchased through our site or our Amazon store, another one will be generously donated to our local Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault shelter, SAFE Berks.

Now Is The Time To Be More Than Just A Company

As a survivor myself, I will never ignore the trauma that I know happens all around us on a daily basis. Giving back to the survivors is a personal priority of mine every day, and even more so during the current global crisis. One of the hardest parts of sexual assault is the long-lasting after-effects. For myself and many others, these can include panic attacks, depressive thoughts, and disordered eating. Despite reaching some extremely dark states of mind, as time went on, and through the encouragement of friends getting me the help I needed, I began to heal. Through consistent therapy sessions, immersing myself in activism, and making a commitment to become more physically healthy — I realized how important the relationship I had with food and my body was to my wellbeing.

Recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and toxic relationships taught me that my happiness is vital in healing. It wasn't until I moved back to the comfort of my family's home in Reading, Pennsylvania that the importance of my roots revealed itself to me.

Sambar Kitchen is much more than the products I sell or the company it seems to be from the outside. Before this company was even a possibility in my mind, I was just a high school student getting ready for college who was worried about feeling homesick. My father and I spent hours in our kitchen tasting and mixing different things to make instant and ready-to-eat meals that I could easily keep in my dorm and mix with a box of rice from the cafeteria or Chinese food restaurant next door.

So, this really isn't just a company. It is the bond of myself and my father when I was an entire plane ride away from home. It is my ancestors' recipes, curated in South India and rarely found on grocery store shelves. It is a product I got to share with my friends when given the same meal options at our university day in and day out. Lastly, it is a taste of my roots wherever my branches spread.

Sambar Kitchen meals brought light into my life, and now it is my mission to help it bring light into others' lives as well.

With love and strength,

Co-Founder Sambar Kitchen

Courtesy of Sambar Kitchen

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.

If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association Hotline at 1-800-931-2237 or visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.


Devi Jags