Resources available for domestic violence survivors as COVID-19 prompts stay-at-home orders

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- As several North Carolina cities and counties enact "stay-at-home" orders, some officials warn of a potential increased likelihood of abuse in homes experiencing domestic violence.

In a release, the Durham Crisis Center and Durham District Attorney Santana Deberry said the confinement, stress and financial hardship associated with the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to increased incidents of abuse.

"For victims of intimate partner violence and child abuse, the stress and confinement of this pandemic may make home a dangerous place to be," Deberry said. "We want you to know that we here at the Durham County District Attorney's Office remain here to help."

The crisis center outlined the potential ways in which abusers might limit the resources of survivors of intimate partner violence:
  • Abusive partners may withhold disinfectants and other necessary items

  • Abusive partners may withhold insurance information and prevent survivors from seeking medical care

  • Survivors who have underlying conditions that may put them at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 may not go to public places or shelters where they would typically seek help

  • Abusive partners may manipulate survivors into thinking they no longer have resources

  • Abusive partners may tell survivors they have COVID-19, and that by leaving they are putting others in danger

The DA also put abusers on notice as she offers assistance to victims, "Those who commit intimate partner violence or child abuse will be held accountable. Durham County District Attorney's Office and local law enforcement, we're still here, we're still prosecuting cases, and we'll still be there to help you during this time."

In a letter to organizations that provide services for victims of domestic violence, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence said shelters and resource centers are considered "essential businesses" under all stay-at-home orders currently active in the state.

Some orders, like Orange County's order, contains specific language encouraging survivors of domestic violence to leave their homes as soon as possible and seek a safer alternative location to stay.

The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence also compiled a local, state and national resource sheet for survivors of domestic violence and other individuals that may need additional help as stay-at-home orders are activated.

The list also includes resources for people experiencing homelessness, those who are undocumented and members of the LGBTQIA community.

Call local law enforcement for help if you are experiencing violence at the hands of a domestic partner or child abuse.
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