Domestic violence agencies try to stay connected to victims during stay-at-home order

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Domestic violence agencies are struggling to adjust to the stay-at-home rules governing its counselors while at the same time trying to serve clients who may be in imminent danger of violence.

The downtown Sacramento offices of WEAVE Inc., the domestic violence nonprofit, are now closed, much like other businesses and public agencies.

The services it provides are crucial for those who may be in harm’s way at the hands of their abusers. That’s why they are making sure they can be connected to potential victims.

“So increased staffing on our 24/7 support information line knowing that increased isolation is probably going to result in more people needing help,” said Julie Bornhoeft with WEAVE.

Incidents of domestic violence can go up during times of stress. As victims live with abusive spouses all day during shelter-in-place directives and with kids in the house, there is less chance to see a counselor or call a hotline.

One of the concerns for domestic violence counselors is that victims often go to parents as a way to escape harm. But older parents are the ones most vulnerable to COVID-19.

WEAVE has seen family stress trigger tragedies before.

“Relationships with a high propensity to significant violence or homicide and we’ve seen that in our community,” Bornhoeft said.

One agency that is keeping its doors open is the Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center — albeit with a skeleton staff.

They want to be available for face-to-face help.

“So we know it’s happening and we just want as many people as possible to know that there are resources available if they can access them, if they can call and/or come in,” said Faith Whitmore with the Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center.

Staff can also walk victims to the county courthouse for restraining orders. Although the Sacramento County Courthouse is closed for most business, domestic violence cases are a priority for the safety of victims.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). WEAVE’s 24-hour support and information line can be reached at 916-920-2952. The Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center also has a list of additional hotlines and resources on its website.

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