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Domestic violence awareness is critical during pandemic

As the month of October winds down, we are reminded that it is not only the month of spooks and goblins, but it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Domestic violence is a problem that no community is immune to. Each week a number of cases dealing with some facet of domestic violence are heard in Sessions Court. Both, the Carter County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Elizabethton Police Dept. receive calls every day dealing with domestic disturbances…some are more serious than others. Some are related to alcohol and drug use. But, all must be taken seriously.
As we close the month-long observance, we do with a call to action particularly pressing during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
Just a few days ago, a man took the lives of a woman and her daughter, and then turned the gun on himself. No one really knows what happened.
Living in this unprecedented pandemic is a stressful time, with adults and children staying at home together, confined to close quarters while at the same time being upended from routines, friends, jobs and other constants in their lives.
The isolation and stay-home practices to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus create conditions that not only may foster violence within homes but make it more difficult for victims to get help.
The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the NoMore.org project recognize October as an opportunity to remind neighbors, family members and victims to recognize the need for intervention.
The message: Educating yourself and others, helping a friend who is being abused, speaking up, and being an engaged bystander are all examples of things people can do to help.
Talking about these issues openly will help end the shame and stigma that domestic violence and sexual assault survivors are burdened with.
The NoMore.org project suggests that the next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about this:
• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
• 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
• 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape.
• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence in their lives.
• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
Resources are available to help, and while it is clear many are using those resources, the toll shows that more needs to be done.
If you are in fear or suspect abuse in a relationship or household, we advise you to call 9-1-1.
Domestic violence has been an epidemic behind closed doors of our communities long before the coronavirus. This year, more than ever, the importance of awareness, understanding of victims’ needs, and embracing the responsibility to help are critical. The community must respond as well as victims.