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COVID-19 isolation could create more danger for domestic abuse victims

"They may not be in safe locations, so what we are going to try and do is make that place as safe as possible," Woolbright said

ST. LOUIS — During this COVID-19 pandemic, we're asked to isolate to protect ourselves.

RELATED: Illinois governor issues statewide stay-at-home order beginning Saturday

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But for victims experiencing domestic violence, this isolation may be just as dangerous.

For an abuser, this can be a way to trap their partner even more. Tensions are high, jobs can be lost and pressure may be added.

Maggie Menefee, Executive Director of ALIVE, said for 35 years the organization has provided temporary emergency shelter for individuals who have experienced intimate partner violence when shelters are full. They also offer counseling services for adults and children.

"It is not always a safe place to be for someone experiencing abuse to be in the home," she added.

Organizations want to remind victims of domestic abuse that there's help available.

Jessica Woolbright, Executive Director for St. Martha's Hall, said their shelter has been accepting abused women along with their children for 38 years and will continue to do so during COVID-19.

"We are still accepting families, but we are being a little bit more cautious," she said.

Most of the shelters in the area are still open. But right now, it may be harder for a victim to reach out.

"If everyone is living in the same four walls, it’s going to make it a lot more difficult to make those phone calls in secret or to reach out to resources. They may not be in safe locations, so what we are going to try and do is make that place as safe as possible," Woolbright said.

ALIVE, just like St. Martha's Hall and other organizations, has a crisis hotline.

Each situation is case by case, but a trained advocate will come up with a plan to meet your specific needs and provide resources. 

Menefee said even though the hospitals are busy, Mercy is still seeing abused clients for medical help, after an injury.

"Our crisis line, no matter what happens, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the agencies in St. Louis feel the same way," Woolbright added.

If you need help during this time, you can call the Safe Connections Crisis Helpline at 314-531-2003.

ALIVE's Crisis Line is 314-993-2777 and they have a number for Franklin County at 800-941-9144. 

These hotlines can offer you support, resources, and a safety plan.

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