Family violence and COVID-19

As our country continues to fight the pandemic known as COVID-19, families everywhere are making adjustments to assimilate work and education into their households.
Isolation and containment cannot be avoided; these measures are necessary in keeping our elderly and those with underlying health conditions safe and for reducing the spread of the virus. However, even those not at a serious health risk are now facing overwhelming challenges.
Preventative measures like social distancing only work when everyone participates, and Pee Dee Coalition urges the community to take these precautions seriously. Collective participation will have a drastic impact on the duration of this process.
We all boil at different degrees. The very measures our nation must enact to protect ourselves will put families at higher risk for stress, anxiety, anger, fear and apprehension. This will undoubtedly shake the foundations of many households in unpredictable ways.
As children get restless, and parents grow tired, the risk of emotional outbursts will skyrocket.
For some, increased tensions may be minor and of little consequence. For others, the effects of isolation will be detrimental triggers.
Experts in family violence are aware of these risks and have been vocal about how severe the consequences of isolation can be. This is especially true for children and victims of abuse who are without normal communication with those who would, under normal circumstances, offer help or intervene.
Julia Tice, project coordinator for Durant Children’s Center 3rd Judicial Circuit Satellite Center, says, “The overall risk increases greatly because the systems used as normal surveillance for kids are shut down (schools, churches, home visiting programs). Socio-economic factors may also be adversely affected, increasing the overall risk for the family, and the children.”
Some of the counties in Pee Dee Coalition’s region have seen spikes in calls regarding abuse. However, not all calls have been about abuse.
Several callers have simply asked for advice and tools for dealing with the surplus of challenges. While Pee Dee Coalition has closed availability for walk-in services, many services are still being offered. The crisis line, virtual counseling and information resources have become increasingly valuable to the community.
“Family violence is something we are concerned about – especially with all the children home,” says Ellen Hamilton, Executive Director for Pee Dee Coalition. “The risk factors can include various family members.”
The situation creates a perfect-storm-scenario for adversity to pervade households. Regardless of a family’s past ability to overcome stress, this process will present new and unexplored tribulations.
Stacey Short, the Chesterfield County Services Coordinator, says, “The longer we continue to experience this epidemic, domestic violence and child abuse issues will increase.”
“Those that are dealing with mental health issues will also become more vulnerable,” says Short. Victims of assault and abuse are at increased risk for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse (RAINN). Pair this with the pressures induced by COVID-19 restrictions, and you have a concoction of strains that most will find overwhelming.
As economic repercussions unfold, and workers are laid off, and household supplies become harder to keep stocked, we will all face shared challenges.
We will also face shared responsibilities to make this time of quarantine as short as possible. Abide by the state and national guidelines; stay indoors, practice social distancing and good hygiene, and only buy what you need.
Remember to check-in on loved ones. Help other’s realize that we participate in these measures not only for our senior citizens and those with health risks, but for healthcare workers, teachers, business owners, parents and children, and especially for those living in abuse.
Pee Dee Coalition can help you and your family during this time of endurance.
There is no shame in admitting this is a tough situation, and the staff at Pee Dee Coalition are available for both serious and simple requests. Whether it is through healthy communication practices, parental or child counseling, crisis intervention or by simply providing advice, Pee Dee Coalition remains loyal to helping families in the Pee Dee emerge from this time stronger and more unified.
Updates will be posted on Facebook/PeeDeeCoalition and on www.peedeecoalition.org. If you need advice or would like someone to speak with, please call your local crisis center.
Donations are needed now more than ever; if you would like to make a financial contribution please mail to P.O. Box 1351, Florence SC, 29501. Online you will find a list of supplies needed to combat COVID-19, and shipments from UPS and FedEx are welcomed.
Please notify staff in advance of shipments and drop-offs, as some are working from home. If you don’t Indicate which county you want the donation to go to, Pee Dee Coalition will take items where they are most needed.
Williamsburg, Chesterfield, and Marion County donations may all be sent to the Florence Crisis Center. All other centers, including Durant Children’s Center and New Beginnings Transitional Shelter, may be sent to their site locations. For any questions please call the Florence Crisis Center. CRISIS LINE: 843-669-4600 or (toll free) 1-800-273-1820.
Pee Dee Coalition is a member of the United Way.

Author: Rachel Howell

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