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Maine Domestic-Violence Shelters Get Creative as Needs Surge

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The number of Mainers requesting help with domestic violence situations increased close to 150% from April through June compared to the same period in 2019. (PickPik/Creative Commons)
The number of Mainers requesting help with domestic violence situations increased close to 150% from April through June compared to the same period in 2019. (PickPik/Creative Commons)
 By Laura Rosbrow-Telem - Producer, Contact
October 2, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine - It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the groups that help survivors in Maine are expecting another record number of requests for assistance.

From April to June, these organizations reported a nearly 50% increase in helpline calls, text messages, emails and other contact.

Executive Director of The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence Francine Garland Stark emphasized that thousands of Mainers are there to support survivors, 24 hours a day. Stark noted all of their programs provide shelter with safe, social distancing - and for some, new temporary housing.

"We have been very fortunate in using hotel rooms in some cases," said Stark. "To help people be able to isolate and stay safe, both from the person who is a threat to them and from the virus."

If you or someone you know needs to talk with a domestic violence support professional, call the Maine state helpline at 1-866-834-HELP.

Stark said one big misconception is that survivors are primarily facing domestic violence. She said most of the time, she prefers the term 'domestic abuse.'

"Most of what's going on here is not physical violence," said Stark. "But really controlling, demeaning, shaming behavior that many people are living with all the time. Talking with someone about what's going on can be very helpful."

Stark said speaking to a trained professional can be especially useful now, since many survivors are in less touch with friends and family as a result of the pandemic. She also emphasized that for many people, leaving an abusive situation is impractical for various reasons, and they should still reach out for help.

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