Domestic violence prevention advocates say abuse victims need more support during pandemic


WASHINGTON- The National Network to End Domestic Violence says the number of calls to its hotline has increased as Americans find themselves stuck at home. 

Lawmakers included some help for victims in the latest coronavirus emergency relief package, but advocates say it’s nowhere near enough.  

It’s the right choice for most Americans. But for others, staying home isn’t safe.

An abuser may take advantage of an already stressful situation to gain more control,” said Deborah Vagins, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Vagins says calls to helplines across the country are surging.

“People have suddenly lost income and face new stressors, while the community resources are simultaneously limited,” said Vagins.

“People are feeling anxiety because of the unknown,” said Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn.

Cornyn says to relieve some of that stress the latest coronavirus relief bill included $45 million for emergency housing and shelter of domestic violence victims.

“We have made sure they are not forgotten in this coronavirus response,” Cornyn added.

The Cares Act also provides $2 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline which Vagins says is a lifeline for many victims stuck at home.

But New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says more should be done to meet the increasing need.

“We need more shelters in place. We need more food and clothing and housing, resources made available. We need them working at their absolute height so that we can meet the needs of the increase,” said Gillibrand.

Vagins is asking Congress for more than $300 million in the next emergency relief bill.

“This supplemental funding will allow domestic violence programs to quickly house and hold vulnerable survivors,” Vagins said.

Vagins adds for some people the extra funding for resources is truly a matter of life and death.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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