Samaritan House sees humongous increase in number of people trying to escape violence

Posted at 3:32 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 17:16:43-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - More people are seeking shelter to escape violence in Hampton Roads.

Groups that provide services to those victims, like Samaritan House in Virginia Beach, are feeling the impacts of an increase need for services.

“We’re seeing a humongous increase in the amount of people that need safe shelter,” said Robin Gauthier, the executive director of Samaritan House.

She said as the coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more victims are in need of a safe place.

“We have seen the increase because a lot of them are home and the abusers are unemployed in the home as well, so the opportunity for abuse is higher," Gauthier said. "The children are home. There is much more financial stress than ever. People are losing their jobs. They’re unable to pay the rent. The stress is very high, and that’s a recipe for violence."

Samaritan House reports that from March 1 to May 1, there has been a 166 percent increase in the number of victims being put into hotels. It said there has been an overall increase in people needing shelter by almost 80 percent.

Gauthier said they have spent $30,000 on hotels.

“We are seeing that increase in the needs of people that are afraid to be home and are unsafe. Right now, that is a challenge,” Gauthier said.

They said someone who has been abused might seem nervous or afraid, may apologize a lot or have signs of abuse that you can see, like bruises. However, they said sometimes you can’t see any evidence of abuse.

Gauthier said an abuser may make fun of or embarrass the victim, keep them from handling money, put them down or criticize them and show jealousy or anger. However, she also said sometimes you can’t spot an abuser.

“We really are concerned about them, and they have less availability to reach out to us if their abusers are hovering over them because they’re home so much," Gauthier explained. "We’re really concerned about the families that are unable to reach out, unable to get to us. We want everyone to know that we’re still open."

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