HER Shelter provides more help than ever for domestic violence survivors during the pandemic

Domestic Violence Awareness

PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

All month, 10 On Your Side will be bringing you stories from those impacted by domestic violence and their families as we aim to break the cycle.

On Thursday, during the Help and Emergency Response (HER) Shelter’s SMART (Successful, Motivated And Really Tired) lunch, we learned just how much the pandemic has affected people.

In the past year, the organization, which operates three shelters in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, spent more than $70,000 on hotel stays.

“There’s a lot of issues that come up with a pandemic and having a congregate living shelter, so making sure that we were allowing for social distancing if anyone had any symptoms, or exposures or underlying health conditions, they were placed in hotels,” Executive Director Olivia Smithberger said.

HER’s hotline operators also took more than 1,480 calls, provided shelter for more than 550 people and got housing for 150.

“Which to us is the end game, when somebody is moving into that safe housing, they’re having long term permanent housing options and they’re living that life they [look] to us for,” Smithberger said.

Next month, you can help the shelter “Strike Out” domestic violence in a bowling fundraiser. It’s happening on Sunday, Oct. 24 from 1-3 p.m. at Bowlero, 112 Medical Parkway, in Chesapeake. It’s $30 to participate in the event, which includes two hours of bowling, shoes, soda, pizza, door prizes and fun games.

You can sign up for the event, get more information on donating and services for those in abusive relationships by clicking here.

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