With the coronavirus pandemic forcing individuals and families to stay home, victims of domestic violence face even greater risk of injury and the associated impact of depression and anxiety.
To address the challenge, Catholic Charities is providing individual virtual counseling as well as forming low-cost, small, virtual support groups of 10 or fewer to assist individuals, according to a release.
“Right now, there is more violence because victims are not able to leave and seek help and they are completely isolated and at the mercy of their abusers,” Anna Smith, Catholic Charities senior program manager for counseling services, said in the release. “Through our virtual counseling, we are able to connect remotely with victims from their computer or phone if they’re able to find even a few minutes to talk.”
The Phoenix Police Department Crime Analysis and Research Unit reported that violent crime in Phoenix rose significantly in the first six months of this year including a 140% increase in deaths from domestic violence over the same period in 2019.
A survey by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence in June showed that all of the responding agencies experienced funding shortfalls due to postponed events, fewer donations and third-party fundraisers, and more than 60% experienced disruptions in staffing because of COVID-19 related resignations or illness.
“These are very difficult times on many levels and it’s very difficult to measure the full impact of the pandemic on individuals who may have already experienced domestic violence and those who may be impacted because of the stresses of being isolated and forced to stay home,” Dawn Curtis, senior program manager for My Sisters’ Place, Catholic Charities’ shelter for victims of domestic violence, said in the release. “It’s critical that people know there are resources available to them.”
Catholic Charities has several programs to assist victims of domestic violence in any stage of transitioning from a life of abuse. To enroll in the small group counseling sessions to cope with stress, anxiety and depression, call 602-749-4405 for available times and cost.
For anyone interested in individual, virtual counseling sessions, costs are based on a sliding scale for individuals paying by credit card or are covered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid agency. Appointments for individuals can also be made by calling 602-749-4405.
The 24-hour domestic abuse hotline is available at 480-821-1024 and My Sisters’ Place provides emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. The Pathways program is also available for support and resources to help victims of domestic violence who do not require immediate shelter.
For more information, go to CatholicCharitiesAZ.org.