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Pandemic Won't Deter KY Domestic Violence Shelters

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020   

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The state's 15 domestic-violence shelters say they have no plans to close their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to losing work and child-care support, said Angela Yannelli, chief executive of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, survivors of domestic violence now may be trapped at home with an abusive partner for prolonged periods of time as social distancing continues. She listed a few of the risk factors that can exacerbate domestic violence.

"Economic stress, social isolation, depression, heavy alcohol and drug use," she said. "All of these things we know are happening in the homes, right now."

The local shelter hotlines are accessible 24 hours, every day of the week, and Yannelli said anyone who feels unsafe in their home can contact a shelter by email, text, or through Facebook or Instagram messaging.

Another option is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. The United Nations also has called for action to combat the global uptick in domestic violence.

In March, the FBI reported an increase in gun sales that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus. Yannelli said people with abusive partners who own guns are at much greater risk of death.

"We already know that if an abuser possesses a firearm," she said, "an abuse victim is six times more likely to be killed than if there were no firearm in the household."

Yannelli said more survivors may need emergency shelter or help getting protective orders to reduce the risk of harm to themselves and their children. She noted that some shelters have adapted to the COVID-19 crisis by moving survivors into hotels where they can quarantine and stay protected in their own room.

"We work with every survivor," she said, "and even if a survivor is diagnosed with COVID-19, we are there to support them, and we will find a place for them to go."

She also emphasized that local shelters are in need of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. If communities have spaces to temporarily house individuals fleeing domestic violence, she said, those supports are needed.

More information is online at kcadv.org/programs, and the UN statement is at news.un.org.

Disclosure: Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence contributes to our fund for reporting on Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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