New technology helps domestic violence survivors amidst pandemic

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – It’s not uncommon for domestic violence cases to spike in times of prolonged stress and disruption and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Since the pandemic began, China and France have seen spikes in domestic violence cases. Other parts of the United States, like New York, have also reported more domestic violence calls and cases.

Here in Charleston, the YWCA says their domestic violence hotline calls have gone down in the last few weeks. Usually, that would be great, but in a world where people are now being encouraged to stay home, possibly with their abusers, the result could be dangerous.

“It’s hard to have a conversation over the phone when your abuser is right beside you all day long,” says Julie Haden, program director of YWCA Resolve Family Abuse Program.

So the YWCA has quickly adapted, making changes of their own to make contacting the hotline easier. On Wednesday, they launched a brand new online hotline, done via computer or cellphone. Instead of calling the hotline, you can online chat with a domestic violence advocate on your computer or cellphone.

If you need to quickly escape the chat, there’s a button for that, too.

“The number one goal of perpetrators out there is isolation — so, in fact, this is being done for them, the virus is doing this for them and we know there are people in danger,” Haden said. “This lets us adapt and change and find other ways to help.”

Haden stressed that now more than ever, people should check in on a family member of friends that you may be worried about.

She also pointed out that just because you can’t physically walk into a courthouse, doesn’t mean you can’t get a domestic violence petition. With the courts closing, getting a domestic violence petition is still considered an emergency. A person can call the hotline or use the new online hotline tool to be connected with a court advocate.

The YWCA provides services for the entire family in Kanawha, Clay and Boone counties. The number for the 24 hour domestic crisis hotline is 304-340-3549.

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