October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Lending a needed hand when victims reach out
Both national and state statistics for 2020 are showing an increase in the number of domestic violence reports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
October places a spotlight on domestic violence and what can be done to stop it. Karen Moessner, Churchill County’s director of the Domestic Violence Awareness, said restrictions associated with the pandemic have been affecting local programs.
“Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, we can’t serve as many in the safe house,” she said. “We have to leave a room free for quarantine.”
Moessner said DVI, though, has the ability to procure emergency motel nights to assist people who need shelter to escape the verbal and physical abuse.
Nevertheless, the DVI program has been active. A small group dyed the fountain last week and then hung purple bows and T-shirts at Millennium Park to bring additional awareness to domestic abuse. Every year, Moessner said The Clothesline Project expresses emotions as expressed by both male and female victims of any age. According to DVI’s handout, “The clothesline display is to educate society and promote awareness, as well as to document violent crimes.”
The number of domestic violence cases fell for the first part of 2020. Since early spring, many businesses requested their employees to work from home, but Moessner said there’s been an increase in abuse. Moessner said the victim was unable to notify authorities because the abuser also remained in the same house working.
“The lockdowns were too hard for victims,” she said.
During the business lockdowns, Moessner also said transportation was a problem for victims, so the local DVI contracted with a taxicab company to provide rides. Moessner only looks at the situation as a temporary setback, but her office continues to take reports and talk to victims. Through national and state DVI groups, Moessner said advocates are able to help one another, and state money has been available to meet funding requests.
This year has been extremely hard with funding, Moessner pointed out. Churchill County’s DVI received $48,000 in marriage license fees, but this year, the amount shrunk to $15,000. She said the DVI office was able to procure a loan that covered $33,000 of the loss and also CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act money.
During 2019, the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence served 37,669 victims with almost half being first-time contacts. The largest group is the female 25-59 bracket with 7,545 victims.
Clark County leads Nevada with 9,449 victims followed by Washoe County with 4,544. Churchill County reported 342 victims, one of the highest numbers among the rural counties.
More statistical information may be found at http://www.ncedsv.org.