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Intimate partner violence and child abuse during COVID-19

By Brenda Wynn

Community Advocate

Inner Banks Hotline

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, everyone is required to stay home to protect themselves and their communities. Unfortunately, the home may not be safe for many families who experience domestic violence, which may include both intimate partners and children.

COVID-19 has caused major economic devastation, disconnected many from community resources and support systems, and created widespread uncertainty and panic. These conditions can cause violence in families where it didn’t exist before and worsen them in homes where mistreatment and violence has been a problem.

Violence in the home has an overall cost to society, leading to potentially adverse physical and mental health outcomes, including a higher risk of chronic disease, substance use, depression.

Before the pandemic, a survivor or victim could flee a violent situation or file a protective order with the police. For many, such options aren’t easily available right now. A stay-at-home order can force victims to stay in a dangerous situation.

Children are specifically vulnerable to abuse during COVID-19. Because of increased stress levels among parents it is often a warning signal of physical abuse and neglect of children. Stressed parents may be more likely to respond to their children’s anxious behaviors or demands in aggressive or abusive way. The support systems that many at-risk parents rely on, such as extended family, child care and schools, religious groups and other community organizations, are no longer available in many areas with stay-at-home orders.

Because our children are not going to school, teachers and school counselors are unable to witness the signs of abuse and report to the proper authorities.

Even in the midst of COVID-19 the Tyrrell County Inner Banks Hotline is taking action to alert victims of abuse that there is help available. We are always concerned with the safety of victims and children and committed to helping them with through this process.

If you or anyone you know might be suffering from a possible intimate partner and/or child abuse situation please feel free to call us at 1-877-429-5526 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

IBX Hotline Thrift Store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Donations are being accepted at this time.

Hotline Staff are Janie Spencer, Executive Director; Norma Hill, Client Advocate; Brenda Wynn, Community Advocate; Gloria Owens, Thrift Store Manager; and Avis Bryant: Faith/Hispanic Outreach Advocate.

Inner Banks Hotline offices and thrift store are at 507 US Hwy. 64 East (beside Family Dollar) in Columbia, telephone 252-796-5526.