We are still here. We are still ready to support anyone struggling with domestic violence. It is important for you to know that if you know someone who is hurt, scared or just concerned that they have a place to talk about what might be happening in their home or in their relationship.

This year has been such a difficult challenge for many reasons. Not the least of which is the inability to interact with our families, friends, co-workers and school mates. When one is in a relationship with someone causing additional stress this lack of interaction becomes most acute.

We are hearing from local domestic violence agencies that they and their local police departments are getting calls about increasing domestic violence that is also increasing in severity. We are available to help before it gets really bad. With COVID 19, economic uncertainties, political upheaval and all the disruptions occurring, it may feel that just staying in place is the safest thing to do. But if you are afraid in your home, please reach out to talk to someone.

We are aware that there are a number of services where people might turn for help that are shut down or at least less accessible for the time being. Places of worship and schools are often the most available places to seek outside assistance and they are currently almost exclusively only online or by phone. Housing, food centers, day care centers are also less likely to be available for interaction with other people. Just getting groceries right now requires planning and forethought.

I wanted to make sure that everyone is aware that local agencies providing services to anyone experiencing emotional, financial or physical abuse are available 24 hours a day. If you need shelter, it is available. If you need counseling for yourself or your children, it is available. If you need advocacy with the courts or with other social services, it is available. If you need support for accessing financial assistance, it is available.  You are not alone.

If you know a sister, cousin, nephew, colleague that you suspect may be struggling with abuse, give them the hotline number to an agency near your community. You can find those here https://www.ilcadv.org/get-help/ If you aren’t sure where the closest agency is, call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at 877-863-6338.

If you are a person who thinks they don’t know anyone like this, I encourage you to be open to listening to the signs. “I can’t talk now, spouse needs supper on the table at 6 pm.”  “I don’t know if I can do that with you, I need to ask my partner”.  “Oh I would never dream of doing that, my spouse wouldn’t allow it.” These may seem like small things or you might be likely to brush off these comments but they could be signs of bigger things. Take a minute to engage the person if they are willing. “Tell me more about that.” You may be surprised about what you learn. And have the hotline number in mind when you start the conversation. It takes all of us to end domestic violence.

By Vickie Smith, CEO/Executive Director, ICADV

(image credit: Illustration 133679513 © Evgeny Malkov | Dreamstime.com)