Victims need help

Belmont County commissioners recognized this as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. That came after commissioners heard statistics on the problem in East ern Ohio.

Last year, the Tri-County Help Center in St. Clairsville helped hundreds of people involved in domestic violence. To cite just one number: Twenty-five victims of domestic violence, along with their children, were provided with 1,052 of “safe haven” by the center, which serves Belmont, Monroe and Harrison counties. Also during 2019, the center took 344 crisis hotline phone calls.

It will be surprising if the numbers for this year are not higher. COVID-19 has had many effects on health and safety. Among them are increased tension due to job losses and restrictions on activities. As experts have noted, the epidemic has resulted in some victims of abuse being trapped by their assailants. By that, we mean that because of the epidemic, some domestic violence victims must survive round-the-clock presence of abusers who otherwise might be gone for lengthy periods of time to work.

One domestic violence center noted a 50% decrease in calls for help during the epidemic — because abusers were with victims who otherwise might appeal for aid.

Evidence of increased domestic violence is trickling in. One Massachusetts hospital reported that this spring, it treated five victims of serious abuse injuries, compared to a total of three during the past three springs.

It is likely domestic abuse has increased in our area, too. If you are a victim, get help. You can call the Tri-County Help Center’s hotline, 740-695-5441, at any time.

If you believe someone you know is being abused, help him or her — but be careful. Your safety may be at risk. And an abuser’s knowledge that the victim is seeking help may put her or him at greater risk.

So how do you help? We suggest calling the Tri-County Center or, if you live in the Northern Panhandle, the Wheeling YWCA Family Violence Prevention hotline at 800-698-1247.


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