Calls to local domestic violence hotlines surge during stay-at-home order

Regional News

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Domestic violence shelters are seeing a surge in the number of callers who need help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor’s order to stay at home is forcing some people into uncomfortable, even dangerous situations.

Calls to Samaritan House in Virginia Beach are up 30% while calls to the Transitions shelter on the Peninsula have increased 37% in the last month.

Transitions Executive Director Sanu Dieng told, “Individuals that don’t want to be quarantined with their partner for fear that things are going to escalate. We are also hearing that the threats have increased dramatically.”

Dieng reports most callers (89%) have never called before and most are women between 25 and 39 years old looking to escape with their kids.  “Children being exposed to more of this verbal and physical violence that’s happening in the home,  we see that survivors don’t want their children to experience that on top of all of the conditions that we’ve been put it in.”

Financial stress from losing jobs is one thing pushing people over the edge in this crisis. Dieng said,  “We’ve also heard those who are being physically harmed aren’t’ sure if they should go to hospitals because they don’t want to be a strain on the system.”

Local shelters all across the region are working together to figure out how to meet the growing demand and to keep clients safe from violence and illness.

“They are still going out, they’re still meeting with clients, they’re still providing childcare, they’re still answering our phones.” Dieng said they have set up quarantine spaces for those who have symptoms or who need a safe place to recover.

Shelters have partnered with hotels to keep survivors and their kids separate from others.  Also,  since it can be hard to get away from an abuser to make a voice call, a state hotline offers live chat and texting.

Dieng said no matter how you reach out or what time of the day or night, shelters are safety planning with everyone who makes contact. “When survivors make the decision that they want to leave, then we are planning their exit as well.”

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

Virginia Sexual Domestic Violence Action Alliance

Center for Sexual Assault Survivors: 757-236-5260

LGBT Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline: 866-356-6998

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233

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