PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — This holiday season, survivors of domestic violence need your help.   

As families prepare to come together to celebrate winter festivities and the end of the year, domestic violence shelters are preparing for an increase in calls.

“Family violence goes up during the holidays,” said Courtney Pierce, Samaritan House Inc. anti-trafficking outreach and direct service coordinator. “We’re doing lots of great work within the community but there is an increase in folks that need our services.

Samaritan House, based in Virginia Beach, will continue to provide 24/7 emergency services through the holidays. Pierce said she signed up for extra shifts to assist with intake.

“We want to make sure that our doors are always open to anyone that’s a survivor of violence,” Pierce said.

Across the country, 1,500 shelters, including Samaritan House and Help and Emergency Response, Inc., or HER Shelter, depend on federal funding from the The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.

Pierce said the funding helps with victim advocates, legal consultants and educational prevention programs.

“Since COVID, we’ve seen a lot of fluctuation,” Pierce said. “We’ve been serving more folks sometimes with less resources, it is really important that we continue to have federal funding to do the work.”

The House passed a bill to reauthorize the act last October. But the Senate version has yet to make it to the floor.

“The need outweighs the availability of resources, it’s already a tough process,” said Olivia Smithberger, HER Shelter executive director. “It’s already hard to access services, especially if you are in domestic violence [situations] but it might not be as extreme as somebody else’s situation. There are prioritization lists, looking at where the services are going to be most useful.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a petition to push lawmakers to pass the act.

“Signing the petition tells our legislatures, ‘Hey, this is important,” Smithberger said. “If that does not happen, if the petition doesn’t get enough signatures or enough people are not supporting the need there is a very real chance that a lot of services will have to be cut next year.”

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, click here for a list of local and national resources.