Services available for victims of domestic violence during pandemic

Services available for victims of domestic violence during pandemic
Services available for victims of domestic violence

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - This is a very vulnerable time for folks who are dealing with domestic violence.

“One of the most powerful tools abusers have is using isolation and unfortunately this is a time when we’re all feeling isolated and I think that can be really scary for survivors of domestic violence who are now finding themselves stuck at home with someone that they don’t feel safe with,” said Mandy Houvouras, Direct Services and Outreach Director for Domestic Violence Shelter and Services Inc.

They want people to know their services are still available.

“Our advocates are available 24 hours a day by phone. They can call and speak with a staff member at any time and we’re able to help people process what they’re going through but also work on plans. So we are still offering emergency shelter. We are still offering emotional support and safety planning,” said Houvouras.

There are still resources folks can access including 911 and law enforcement, and emergency protective orders are still being issued.

Houvouras says domestic violence doesn’t stop during a pandemic – but they wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in calls.

“Statistically, what we know is we’re likely to see an increase so folks are probably experiencing more violence just because they’re trapped in their homes where they’re not able to leave. Unfortunately with domestic violence so much is about power and this is a time when folks are feeling like they don’t have a lot of power," she said. "What we do know is domestic violence survivors are resilient and that there is hope out there. We are getting lots of calls from people and we are here to help offer that support.”

If you’ve never experienced domestic violence but are wondering if you need help, here are some things to consider.

“I think if something doesn’t feel right to you and you’re in a situation where you’re not feeling safe with the person who’s supposed to make you feel more safe than anyone else in the world that’s a big warning sign. Even though we’re all trying to practice social distancing and we’re trying to do our part, it’s important not to be isolated or cut off from the support systems that you do have,” said Houvouras.

Other suggestions from Houvouras, "reach out and talk to a friend about how you’re feeling, call a family member that you trust and also know that you can pick up the phone and talk with us. We’re here to offer support. It’s never okay to for you to feel unsafe in your home. These are challenging times for everyone, but violence is never the answer. Making someone feel like they’re not safe and they don’t deserve to be happy, they don’t deserve support, everything is their fault, those are huge warning signs and so our website is still up and available. It has a lot of information about domestic violence and like I said our hotline is available 24 hours for support.”

Advocates with the domestic violence shelter want people to know there are options even if you feel isolated.

“Safety planning is really important and especially right now more than ever when options are limited, folks may not feel like they’re able to leave or folks may not feel like you know they can go to a neighbor’s house or a friend’s house or things that they’ve done before but that doesn’t mean that we can’t come up with safety strategies. Whether that means reaching out for shelter or to talk with an advocate, options are on the table,” said Houvouras.

The hotline number to call for help is 910-343-0703

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