Monday, January 17, 2022

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is nearly over, but the struggle continues

As people are forced to stay in their homes amid the coronavirus epidemic, victims of domestic abuse are finding it more difficult to escape. (WYDaily/Join Base Langely-Eustis)
The Avalon Center has seen a 50% rise in phone calls compared to last year and attribute the pandemic to the increase in cases.  (WYDaily/Join Base Langely-Eustis)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but the issue doesn’t end with that.

In fact, since the start of the pandemic, domestic violence cases have been increasing.

RELATED STORY: No escape: Domestic violence cases expected to rise during coronavirus pandemic

For example, the Avalon Center, a nonprofit organization in Williamsburg whose goal is to end domestic and sexual violence in the region, has been seeing an increase in severity of cases.

“Safer at home isn’t always the case with an abusive spouse or an abusive boyfriend,” said Leslie Jingluski, community engagement coordinator at the Avalon Center.

From this time last year, calls to the Avalon Center have been up by 50%, Jingluski said.

And even before people were trapped in their homes during the outbreak, nearly 20 people every minute are physically abused by a partner in the United States, according to data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

And yet domestic violence cases may get even worse.

Jingluski said they are expecting child abuse cases to increase as children begin going back to in-person learning. Child abuse cases happen when teachers identify the problems early.

She added the case is even more dire for children because they don’t have the same independence an adult has when it comes to finding help.

“We’re gearing up for that and I hope we’re wrong,” Jingluski said. “We hope we’re wrong but at the same time, we’re preparing for the worst.”

While the case for domestic violence may seem bleak right now, there are actions people can take to help those who are currently suffering or have suffered from abuse.

RELATED STORY: Chances are you know someone who’s in an abusive relationship. There’s help out there

Since it is still domestic violence awareness month, and Avalon is celebrating their 40th anniversary, the nonprofit has been hosting their Volksmarch & Ride, a nine-mile virtual event where participants are invited to walk, ride or run the distance throughout the month of October.

Jingluski said this is their inaugural event and the original plan was to have it in person at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester, but with the pandemic, they decided to make it virtual instead.

Avalon is also hosting several contests. Prizes will be awarded for the most creative photos as well as for the top three fundraisers.

Registration for the event is $25, and all proceeds directly fund the various programs at Avalon. All participants receive a beanie with the event logo.

For those interested in getting involved, check out Avalon’s website here.

As for those who are currently in a situation involving abuse, The Avalon Center has a toll-free helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Jingluski said when it comes to getting help from the center, calling the helpline is a good first step so counselors can evaluate how to best help an individual.

Counselors are available to help both in-person and virtually, and all resources are at no cost to the individual.

The Avalon Center not only provides counseling but also an emergency shelter, various safe houses, transportation, and even help setting up a personal bank account.

Jingluski added when a person receives help from the center, they become an initial in order to maintain confidentiality.

“That’s why most people don’t leave a situation because of financials,” she said. “Kids, pets, rent, it’s complicated.”

If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic abuse, call:

  • Avalon’s 24-hour helpline at 757-258-5051.
  • Avalon’s toll-free helpline at 833-537-0970.
  • The Samaritan House 24-hour crisis hotline at 757-430-2120.
  • York County’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program at 757-890-3402.
  • The National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-787-3224.

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