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Family Crisis Council worried victims aren’t able to get away to report abuse

By Liz Moomey

liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Numbers may not fully communicate whether there has been a significant change across the community in domestic violence incidents that are occurring during the stay-at-home order, according to Renee Bradshaw, executive director of the Family Crisis Council of Rowan.

Since the stay-at-home order began in mid-March, the Salisbury Police Department has seen the domestic related reports double from the same period last year. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, has not seen any increase compared to 2019. In fact, according to Rowan County 911, calls were half of what they were from mid-March to the end of April is half compared to the same period in 2019.

Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said the agency has seen an increase in assaults, the majority of those have been with “personal weapons” — hands, feet, or fists. Officers are seeing interpersonal violence rise between domestic partners.

But Stokes said police can’t specifically attribute the uptick of domestic related calls and reports to the stay-at-home order.

“Whether this relates to the stay at home order or not is speculation, but certainly a good assumption that additional stress in a household due to everyone being at home all the time and economic impact of the virus crisis could lead to assaults,” Stokes said.

Bradshaw said the work at the Family Crisis Council of Rowan, Inc. continues on despite the COVID-19 outbreak. The organization’s temporary shelter is still up and running. Their court advocates are working as normal. They are continuing to help victims get protective orders from their abusers.

Bradshaw said she has seen a decrease in calls to the Family Crisis Council for help during the stay-at-home order.

“We attribute that to the fact that these victims cannot get away from the perpetrator, the spouse or the boyfriend, because he is out of work and he’s there all the time,” she said. “Unless they can get away to call us, we can’t help them.”

Bradshaw, though, said they have received a number of calls from people who are concerned about their loved ones who may be in an abusive situation. The best advice she said is telling them to call the crisis line at 704-636-4718, ext. 1 or visiting their website fccrowan.org.

Bradshaw said domestic violence does not go away; it gets worse during stressful times. Bradshaw said she hopes there aren’t any deaths relating to domestic violence in the county.

She said the family crisis council will work with anyone who calls to provide anything they need. The council will help them come up with a safety plan and do a lethality assessment to help them during this time that they can’t get away.

“You can love somebody but it doesn’t mean that you can live with them,” Bradshaw said. “You can love them for the rest of your life, but if they’re beating you to death or they’re mentally abusing you, you cannot live like that.”

Bradshaw predicts the Family Crisis Council will see an increase after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“I do think we’ll see an uptick because people start getting away, and that’s OK; we can handle it,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said they will continue to be there for survivors and provide resources for them and pray for them.

“We’re still here for you,” she said. “Believe in yourself.”

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