HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — While people across the country are urged to stay home to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, domestic violence organizations are seeing an uptick in abuse.
Health officials stress social distancing to prevent others from becoming sick. However, the isolation from COVID-19 could make victims of domestic violence more vulnerable.
Transitions Family Violence Services in Hampton provides emergency shelter and resources to help victims safely escape. Its director, Sanu Dieng, says more survivors have called for help in the last two weeks.
“As we know, this public health issue is impacting everyone. I think it is really import for us to focus on vulnerable populations like victims of domestic violence,” explained Dieng. “Those that are evaluating their financial means and whether they should leave an abusive relationship or stay in one. Plus, all of the factors that go into that. The factors of caring for their children, being able to move around freely, and being able to support themselves during this time.”
Dieng said its an extremely stressful time, as some people have lost their job and are worried about getting sick. Since survivors are forced to stay in the home or in close contact to their abuser, it can create an unsafe environment.
“We know that they are feeling trapped. As we are all fearful of what is happening on the outside, they are fearful of what is happening on the inside,” she adds.
The group of dedicated staff are working remotely but they are available for victims by phone (24-hour crisis hotline: 757-723-7774), email or via social media.
“We just encourage those that are experiencing violence at home. Whether it be verbal, emotional, or physical to just reach out and call us,” she said.
Neisha Himes, a domestic violence survivor and founder of the Girls Recognizing Our Worth (or G.R.O.W.) foundation wants people to know there is a way out.
Himes said abusers are using the COVID-19 outbreak to control victims. Some abusers will take away insurance cards, threaten to kick victims out or physically harm them to exert power and fear.
“This is giving a different dynamic of abuse,” explained Himes. “We are going to need, people who are going to be understanding of this situation. Landlords who are willing to work with survivors on the security deposit [or] look past credit issues. Things like that just to help them recover from this setback that nobody planned for.”
Both organizations are committed to providing safe escape options but need:
- partnerships with housing or hotels
- transportation services
- donated cellphones or cellphone cards
- WiFi devices
10 On Your Side is committed to helping Break the Cycle of domestic violence. Here are some local and national resources for those in need of help.
Transitions Family Violence Services in Hampton
- Phone: 757-722-2261
- Offers emergency shelter and crisis services
- 24- hour Crisis Hotline (757) 723-7774
YWCA South Hampton Roads in Norfolk
- Phone: 757-625-4248
- Offers counseling, youth, and crisis services.
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 757-251-0144
Avalon Center in Williamsburg
- Phone: 757-258-5022
- Offers transitional housing, emergency shelter, youth services, legal advice, and counseling.
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 757- 258-5051
Samaritan House Inc. in Virginia Beach
- Phone: 757-631-0710
- Offers counseling, emergency shelter placement, and safety planning.
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline 757-430-2120
HER Shelter in Portsmouth
- Phone: 757-485-1445
- Offers emergency services, court assistance, shelter, employment, housing assistance.
- Hotline: 757-485-3384
Girls Recognizing Our Worth G.R.O.W Foundation, Inc. serves the entire Hampton Roads area: 757-384-0294
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233