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Domestic violence on the rise during COVID-19 outbreak

Advocates for domestic violence survivors are reporting a "surge" of violence in Hampton Roads.

NORFOLK, Va. — As the world continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, there is another terrible side effect you might not know about: more instances of domestic violence.

Samaritan House Executive Director Robin Gauthier said her team has seen a "surge" of domestic violence in recent weeks. 

“We believe there’s going to be an increase," she said. "We think we have seen a surge at this point. Last week, we had to bring in seven families that were exposed to violence and in imminent danger. This week alone, we’ve brought in an additional three.”

Gauthier said Samarian House can’t close or work from home, they must be available to help anyone who may be in a crisis.

“We’re very concerned about the families that are home, that are not going out, that are not reaching out to friends and family," she said. "Their children are home with them as well, so there’s more of a chance they could be exposed to domestic violence as the stress of losing jobs, and the financial stress.”

She said her team is trying to respect the order to limit gatherings to 10. They already have limited capacity so they've turned to renting rooms for families, and that isn't cheap.

“Because of our limited shelter capacity, we’ve had to use nine hotel rooms for some of the existing families as well,” she explained. “It’s costing about $4,000 a week.”

Gauthier said it's hard for non-profits to fund-raise because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They rely on donations and are asking for help.

“We’ll take toilet paper, we’ll take food, we’ll take any donations that people can give but we are in the biggest need for funding because we’ve got to pay the staff," Gauthier said.

For more information on what Samaritan House needs, check out their website. Their on-site donation department is located at 2620 Southern Blvd. in Virginia Beach.

If you or anyone you know is facing domestic violence and needs help, call the Samaritan House hotline at 757-430-2120 and they will coordinate assistance.

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