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Living nightmare? Help available for abuse victims who suffer more during hardship

For people who experience domestic, child or sexual abuse at home, being told to stay there could be a living nightmare.

“Even in the best economic times, the most dangerous place for a woman who is a victim of domestic violence is their own home,” said Live Violence Free Executive Director Debra Dyason.

Live Violence Free is a nonprofit that aims to promote a violence free community through education and advocacy to address domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and basic needs in South Lake Tahoe.

Dyason said these situations can be exacerbated by issues from COVID-19.

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“Perpetrators are using the coronavirus as another tool in their tool box to exert power,” Dyason said, including threatening to throw people out of the house or withholding money.

The world health organization said that while there isn’t enough hard evidence, there is anecdotal evidence to support an increase of violence after natural disasters. While coronavirus isn’t a natural disaster, it’s bringing the same kind of stress a natural disaster can, like financial worries and food shortages.

“This is a super scary time for folks who are in unhealthy relationships and with the added stresses of everything going on, abuse can get worse,” said Sierra Community House executive director Paul Bancroft.

Sierra Community House provides hunger relief, crisis intervention and prevention, legal services, and family support and community engagement for residents of Kings Beach, Incline Village, Crystal Bay and Truckee. Dyason said she’s already seen an increase in victimization. LVF is continuing to offer counseling services, legal mediation and housing assistance remotely but Dyason is concerned that their office being closed will be another obstacle for victims looking to get help.

For victims living with their abusers, it’s hard and in some cases impossible to call LVF’s crisis hotline.

Dyason said LVF is starting community outreach and wants people to know what resources LVF offers, including tools for employers and neighbors. LVF is leaning on the community to help get victims connected to their resources. Bancroft said he anticipates an increase in instances of violence. “We will see an increase in other calls because those last paychecks are winding down,” Bancroft said. He also said he’s sure calls for their hunger relief program will double, if not triple in the next 30 days.

“Historically, a lot of our programs focus on the most vulnerable,” Bancroft said. “That pool of vulnerability will grow infinitely.” Both Sierra Community House and LVF are asking for support from the community. Sierra Community House needs food and financial help for those who can help. LVF, in addition to asking the community to keep an eye out on potential victims, could use financial support.

If you need help, call LVF’s 24 hour crisis hotline at 530-544-4444 or Sierra Community House’s 24-hour Community Helpline at 800-736-1060.

To make a donation, visit liveviolencefree.org or sierracommunityhouse.org.


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