Charleston YWCA works to overcome COVID-19 challenges

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) Next week the Charleston YWCA will launch their annual Girls Night Out celebration with a twist because of COVID-19. As they finish up last-minute plans, organizers say the need is greater than ever before.

“COVID has brought it’s fair share of challenges to providing services to victims of domestic violence,” said Julie Haden, Program Director for the YWCA Resolve Family Abuse Program.

When it comes to helping victims of domestic violence the biggest problem right now is isolation.

“It is hard to have a phone call when someone is right there with you,” Haden said.

She said calls to the domestic violence hotline dropped 40% the first month during the stay home order.

“It would be nice to believe that was because everyone was getting along happily and enjoying this time of self isolation together, but that is not the case,” Haden said. “We knew that so we wanted folks to be able to reach out to us fairly quickly.”

To make communication easier and safer they launched a chat feature on their website.

Having limited access to courthouses has also had an impact.

“They weren’t allowed in, our advocates weren’t allowed to work out of the courthouse, which meant we pretty quickly had to come up with some way that the public could reach out to our advocates for help filling out those domestic violence petitions,” she said.

Haden said the number of petitions filed in June 2020 was down 88% from the same month the previous year. She said now it is more important than ever to check on friends or family members that you suspect may be in danger.

“Home is not a safe place for everybody and that is the key here,” she said.

Haden said the following are signs of domestic violence.

  1. Physical abuse – any use of force or physical harm
  2. Mental or emotional abuse – a regular pattern of verbal offense, threatening, constant criticism as well as subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming and manipulation
  3. Controlling money – keeping money from you or control how you spend money
  4. Checking your phone, email or social media without your permission – looking through your email, phone, or internet history without your knowledge or permission
  5. Isolation – keeping you from seeing friends or family
  6. Cruelty or animals and/or children – using threats of harm or actual harm to your pets or children
  7. Threats or intimidation – destroying things important to you and threats of harm to you if you do not comply
  8. Threats of suicide – using threats of suicide as a way to control a partner and/or keep them from leaving
  9. Drug or alcohol abuse – this can lead to other abusive behaviors. One partner insisting that the other drink or use drugs is another form of abuse
  10. Extreme jealousy or possessiveness – calling or checking up on you excessively or insisting that you check-in at every moment as well as dictating where you go or what you wear

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