VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The pandemic is prompting a perfect storm for domestic violence. Isolation, financial stress, childcare and being confined at home are spelling out a huge surge.
"I never remember a time in the last 15 to 20 years where we have had a 166 percent increase in need for hotels, where we are serving up to 15 to 18 families at a time," said Robin Gauthier, executive director of the Samaritan House in Virginia Beach.
Shelters and hotels are at max capacity, and the need for programs and services is up more than 30 percent.
"One in three women and one in four men are victims of domestic violence at some point in their life," she said.
It is an epidemic that affects more than 12 million people each year, and one that is highlighted during October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"We do not want people to feel unsafe, be in danger or suffer in silence when they're victims of violence," Gauthier said.
The need for funds to help victims is critically important during this year's Paint 757 Purple campaign , where Hampton Roads businesses help participate in giving back.
"We would like to bring in $40,000 this year, because of the increased need for services, operations and money to facilitate housing for victims," Gauthier said.
Thirty businesses are participating this year, down from 50 last year - a reflection that businesses, too, are either shuttered or cash-strapped.
"We are not asking them this year to give a percentage of sales, just asking them to have patrons make contributions to Samaritan House," Gauthier said.
It's giving back to those looking to break the cycle of domestic violence during a time where so many are yearning to no longer suffer in silence.
"Please stand for victims of domestic violence and wear purple for them on October 22," Gauthier said.
If you are suffering or know someone who is we have resources here.