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Local domestic violence agencies hosting virtual events on awareness month

Updated: October 01, 2020 06:12 PM

October marks the beginning domestic violence awareness month, something that affects over 4 million people every year in the United States. Agencies like CASDA and Safe Haven are continuing their push to raise awareness but virtually, so everyone can join.

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On Thursday Duluth and Superior mayor's Emily Larson and Jim Paine officially proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness month. CASDA staff placed over 724 purple flags outside the Douglas County Courthouse representing the number of domestic violence calls taken by police.

Local domestic violence agencies say this month's mission is to bring awareness and support to domestic violence services, prevention, and advocacy.

"Domestic violence is an issue in our local community that in some ways the current pandemic is intensifying its' impact on families and individuals," said Jill Hinners, the CASDA community engagement coordinator.

During COVID-19 local domestic violence agencies said they've seen an increase in people seeking their services.

CASDA'S domestic abuse program coordinator, Lisa Jordan, said they have noticed a significant increase in referrals since July.

CASDA has also seen a decrease in shelter requests, they believe this could be because people don't feel comfortable going to the shelter due to the health pandemic.

Safe Haven executive director Brittany Robb said they have seen an increase in calls too.

"We saw a really tremendous uptick in the call for services particularly around survivors and wanting to know how can they keep themselves safe at home," said Robb.

Robb said yearly comparison data indicates that they are operating their shelter at 80% capacity compared to the same time frame last year due to social distancing measures necessary for safely housing survivors in a congregate setting as a result of COVID-19.

Robb also said the Resource Center continues to provide safety services on both a walk-in and appointment basis and continue to see an average of 200 clients monthly.

With families forced to isolate and stay home at the start of this pandemic, domestic violence agencies have adapted to the times so they can continue helping victims.

"All of our support groups are currently operating online and we also made a really concerted effort as an agency to reach out to survivors that we've worked with in the past," said Robb.

CASDA has been offering their services virtually as well and has made changes to the shelter so that it is safe for victims during COVID- 19.

During Domestic Violence Awareness month, the agencies are hosting several virtual events everyone can join. 

"We set up a whole week called health and healing and every day there's a different option so there's guided meditations, there's energy healings, live music," said Jordan.

"We get so many calls from friends and family members of survivors wondering what they can do to help and support their loved ones who are experiencing domestic violence so we're going to have a handful of live Q and A sessions online, said Robb.

The organizations are in need of donations due to having lost significant fundraising due to COVID. You can go to the CASDA and Safe Haven website to donate.

CASDA's helpline is being answered 24/7 at 715-392-3136 or 800-649-2921. Safe Haven crisis hotline is 218-728-6481.

The virtual events for both Safe Haven and CASDA are listed below:

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