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Domestic violence groups transition to virtual and remote services during pandemic

Groups report increase in severity of violence
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Posted at 3:44 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 20:23:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are staying at home to limit their risk of contracting or passing on the virus. However, for some, staying at home can be a safety concern, especially if they're living with their abuser.

Advocacy groups have changed the way they operate in light of the pandemic so that victims can still get the services they need.

Ashley Cathey with the Office of Family Safety says their organization has been keeping busy.

"I can say that since COVID has occurred our the increase in client contact and resources providing has increased by 280%," Cathey said.

She says they've seen an increase in the severity of the violence when it comes to strangulation and physical and sexual assaults. It's something that helplines statewide are seeing.

"We're getting calls from folks we might not typically hear from like public health nurses who said yea I have a patient who tested positive for COVID and disclosed they are experiencing domestic violence," said Jennifer Vaida with Nurture the Next.

The pandemic has made planning more difficult but advocates say it's important for them to continue providing services for clients in need. That's why they many virtual and remote options.

The Office of Family safety has an online chat feature on their website. Anyone wanting to chat can enter their information and an advocate will reach out to you. You can also do Order of Protections and safety planning remotely as well.

"If they have access to internet all they have to do is give us their information over the phone and we can put it in on our end," said Cathey.

Advocates say just because we're going through a time of isolation, it doesn't have to mean you're alone. October is domestic violence awareness month.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Office of Family Safety. The office is accepting walk-ins at 610 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210. They are open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m but are open 24/7 for Orders of Protection. People can also visit their website here.

To contact a 24/7 Domestic Violence Helpline, dial 1-800-356-6767 or reach out to the YWCA’s 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline: 1-800-334-4628 or TEXT us at 615-983-5170