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'You are not alone' | Advocates stress abuse resources are essential services

While COVID-19 precautions are shutting down many businesses, Child Help and the YWCA resources are still available for those in need of help.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With COVID-19 forcing millions of people to stay home experts believe many adults and children will be subject to abuse.

"We run a national hotline and we've seen a 10% increase in the last week in calls to that hotline but we've also seen a 14% increase in the texts," Child Help's Eddie Smith said.

He gets an update on the numbers weekly, and while much of the country is shut down, his organization is still working.

"We still have our forensic interviewers in the office taking interviews with children," he said. 

Though the hotline is seeing more calls and texts, he adds that does not mean people should stop reaching out.

"We have master level counselors who man our hotline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can call it at any time," Smith said. 

Credit: WBIR

That goes for adults too. Catherine Jones over at the YWCA said while they have made some resources remote, you can still call if you need it.

"It is a really vulnerable time for people experiencing domestic violence," she said.

Credit: WBIR

As a community, she wants us to think about how people can be affected.

"For someone who's home is not a safe place or maybe the abuser is not leaving home, maybe they've been laid off from their job so you also have the financial aspect so there are a lot of things that play into this," she said. 

It is an experience she said could affect anyone.

"Like this virus, it doesn't discriminate; it doesn't care where you come from, what you look like, your background and domestic violence doesn't either," Jones said. 

Credit: WBIR

For that reason, both advocates agree we've got to be a resource as much as we can to whoever we can.

"Use every single avenue to make sure every single child in our community can stay safe," Smith said. 

Jones echoed much of the same.

"You're not alone in this, there are people out there who can help," Jones said.

Both Child Help and the YWCA are both reachable by phone.

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