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WomenSafe is still here to help

According to the World Health Organization, one out of three women will experience domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. But in times of crisis, like natural disasters, wars, or epidemics, the risk of gender-based violence increases. Today’s COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. With millions of people sheltering in place worldwide, the lives of people who are bullied by their spouse or domestic partner are negatively impacted even further.
Anita Bhatia, the deputy executive director of the United Nations Women, told Time magazine that “the very technique we are using to protect people from the virus can perversely impact victims of domestic violence.” She added that “while we absolutely support the need to follow these measures of social distancing and isolation, we also recognize that it provides an opportunity for abusers to unleash more violence.”
In China, the number of domestic violence cases reported to local police tripled this past February, compared to the previous year. Advocates say the increased violence is the result of enforced lockdown.
Domestic violence is rooted in power and control. Abusers: People who channel their stress and frustration by taking it out on their partner, may become more angry and violent as their feelings of being out of control increase. Victims: People who experience abuse and can no longer escape the home to go to work or see friends, may find themselves facing a much more difficult situation at home under a lockdown or shelter in place order.
Here in Addison County, WomenSafe remains committed to helping anyone experiencing domestic or sexual violence. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone at 388-4205. WomenSafe advocates are helping people every day with transportation, housing, phones and calling plan minutes, and food. 
Si necesita vivienda, podemos ayudarlo. Si necesita comida, podemos ayudarlo. Estamos aquí para ayudar a todas las víctimas de violencia doméstica o sexual. Por favor, llámanos a 388-4205.
Community members who feel safe at home are encouraged to support WomenSafe financially — all donations are welcome. During this pandemic, advocates are working around the clock to make sure vulnerable  community members have the tools they need to reach out for support. Donations are going to provide grocery gift cards, phones, and minutes for phone plans, so that everyone can access safety during the difficult weeks ahead.
Editor’s note: This story was provided by WomenSafe board member Joanna Colwell.

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