Durham County officials highlight domestic violence resources available during COVID-19

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham County officials sent a news release on Thursday highlighting the county’s domestic violence resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The release is from the Durham Crisis Response Center (DCRC), Durham County District Attorneys Office and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

The letter says that as “Durham residents heed the advice of health officials and practice social distancing, the confinement, stress and financial hardship associated with COVID-19 could present an increased likelihood of abuse in homes experiencing domestic violence.”

The three agencies say that they want residents to know that there are resources available to survivors of domestic violence even as the coronavirus pandemic impacts daily life in a variety of different ways.

“In pandemics such as COVID-19, isolation can be hard on anyone. It becomes particularly hard to be isolated with your abuser,” says Kent Wallace-Meggs, DCRC’s executive director in the release. “Abusers may tell survivors untruths about access to care, make them feel as if they have no way out or that no resources are open. Abusers may take this situation and use it to further isolate the survivor from communicating with friends and family and their support system. We are here to let this community know we are here for you and available through our helpline twenty-four hours a day.”

Services meant to assist survivors are continuing to operate during the pandemic, even as all “non-essential” businesses and services have been closed across the state by order of Gov. Roy Cooper.

“As our community deals with COVID-19, it is critical that survivors of domestic violence know that help is available,” Durham DA Satana Deberry says in the news release. “Victims of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and child abuse are of the highest priority to the Durham County District Attorney’s Office – now and always. You are not alone.”

The sheriff’s office will still be available to assist at any time, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead says.

“The deputies in our domestic violence unit are specially trained to assist those in crisis,” he says. “We’re here day and night to assist. If someone is being abused or witnesses abuse they can reach out to us by calling 911 or our communications center at 919-560-0900.”

The agencies also included a list of resources available to domestic violence victims.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or sexual violence, the Durham Crisis Response Center helpline is available 24/7 at 919-403-6562 (English) or 919-519-3735 (Español).

Domestic violence protective orders will continue to be addressed at the Durham County Courthouse despite the modification of other court operations due to COVID-19.

The Family Justice Center remains open at the courthouse to assist with protective orders. Individuals who are in need of a domestic violence protective order should call the Family Justice Center at 919-450-8970. The line is answered until 5 p.m. The Family Justice Center, located in Suite 2000 on the second floor of the courthouse, is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Click here for more information on how to obtain a protective order in the state.

Included below is more information on domestic violence signs and how to handle domestic issues:

How COVID-19 could impact intimate partner violence survivors:
Abusive partners may withhold necessary items such as hand sanitizers and disinfectants
Abusive partners may withhold things like information, insurance cards and prevent frightened survivors from seeking medical care
High-risk survivors may be at risk in public places where they would typically seek help or shelter
Manipulating survivors into thinking there are no longer any resources available for them
Abusive partners may tell survivors they have been infected with COVID-19 and tell them by leaving they are putting others in danger

Some of the signs of an abusive partner include:
Shows extreme jealousy
Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
Controls the household’s money
Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
Destroys your property
Threatens to harm your children or pets
Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
Pressures you to have sex, use drugs or drink alcohol when you don’t want to

If you are experiencing domestic violence:
Reach out for help. Assistance is a phone call away. The Durham Crisis Response Center helpline is available 24 hours per day at 919-403-6562 (English) or 919-519-3735 (Español).
Create or update a safety plan. The Durham Crisis Response Center can assist in ways to help you remain safe during this time.
Practice self care. Stress can weaken an immune system. Get rest, drink water and eat healthily.
Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.

If someone you love is experiencing domestic violence:
Listen. Be supportive and non-judgmental.
Encourage them to reach out to someone who can help.
Help them create a safety plan or connect them to a service provider, like Durham Crisis Response Center, that can.

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