domestic violence

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Comes Amid Pandemic Uptick

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The Hope Family Justice Center in New Haven launched about a year and a half ago, and since then, they’ve had about 1,000 visits from more than 400 domestic violence victims.

“That means they’re coming back to get long term continued services and care,” said Paola Serrecchia, Hope Family Justice Center site manager, who added that’s a good thing for those who need help. She adds though, the calls have been steady through the pandemic.

“We had victims of domestic violence in the showers, in the bathrooms in the basements trying to grab one minute or two just to call for help,” said Serrecchia.

At a Domestic Violence Awareness Month press conference Tuesday, the group’s leaders said the last seven months have been a challenging time.

“What we are seeing especially since the pandemic are individuals are coming to us with hardly any resources,” said Esperina Stubblefield, director of BHcare, the parent organization of the Hope Family Justice Center. “It’s a lot more layers that need to be peeled to provide them the services that they need.”

The center said there are 26 partners they work with including police departments, and New Haven police are one of 19 different departments working with people in domestic violence situations.

“How we respond to that incident is critical to whether or not we stop that cycle and we recognize that,” said New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes. He added the department works with the center on training and awareness.

At the Hope Family Justice Center, there’s an office detectives and members of the State’s Attorney’s Office. Advocates at the center can also help with everything from mental health to voter registration with a private address.

“Linking them to community services, helping them find housing, helping them with financial needs,” said Stubblefield.

Karen Jarmoc is CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Last fall they launched CT Safe Connect, which saw more traffic during the pandemic.

“We saw a 60% increase in what we call ‘remote advocacy.’ And that was through Safe Connect but also through advocates in the 18 domestic violence organizations [we work with],” said Jarmoc.

She added that domestic violence isn’t caused by a pandemic, but the situation at home is made more difficult by it. But, she said, they’re proud of how they’ve been able to respond to victims.

“Having conversations with them, Facetime visits, emailing, live chats, so it was really a remarkable way for us to be able to connect with people who needed help at a really critical and stressful time.”

They are using social media to spread awareness of domestic violence using #SELFieLOVEchallenge. They’re encouraging people to take a selfie, upload it and tag three friends to show support for those facing domestic violence situations. .

If you need help, you can safely reach CT Safe Connect here, or by calling or texting 1−888-774-2900

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