NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennesseans are doing their best to stay home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. But this kind of isolation could turn deadly for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
"The problem is when you're home with an abuser, an effective tool is power and control" Diane Lance said, "This situation is ripe with opportunities to increase control offenders have over victims.
Diane Lance is the director of the Office of Family Safety. She says during times of isolation or following a natural disaster, domestic violence and sexual assault cases tend to go up.
Lance explains right now there’s a lot of added stress. This can range from financial insecurities to fear of getting sick. Victims would sometimes use work and school as a way for victims to get away from their abusers but now that people are staying home, the opportunities to get away are scarce.
"Offenders can see what their victims are doing, take control of their phone or computer and with no one leaving the house, there's no independent opportunties to find avenues to meet the victim's own safety needs," Lance said.
The Office of Family Safety located at 610 Murfreesboro Pike is open 24/7 and accepting walk-ins. Lance says they added safety precautions to ensure the victim's health is a priority. They are keeping people 6 feet apart and have some of their advocates working remotely. Lance says they’ve added additional cleanings to the building as well because the last thing she wants is victims not calling in because they’re worried about getting the virus.
YWCA is also continuing to operate the Weaver Center. Those needing help or looking for safety can call the 24 hour hot line at 1-800-334-4628 or text 615-983-5170.