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Rates of domestic abuse in the Valley remain steady in 2021

Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 8:13 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, there were 92 cases of child abuse investigated in Harrisonburg in the last year. Rates of domestic violence also remained steady in the Valley.

“We have a domestic violence hotline that there is a train staffed member that answers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We had over 400 hotline calls in 2020. We’ve had years where it’s been even more than that. It is something that we see on a regular basis,” said Candy Phillips, Executive Director of First Step Virginia, a Harrisonburg agency dedicated to providing resources and support to survivors of domestic violence.

First Step said there are a number of warning signs someone may be in an abusive relationship that go beyond unexplained injuries or bruises.

“People start to get concerned when they see their loved one or someone they know start to be isolated by their partner. They only see them when they’re with their partner. There seems to be power and control over the victim. If the person seems isolated or their behavior changes, those are some red flags that there is something going on in the relationship,” said Phillips.

Phillips said that domestic violence in the home also greatly affects children’s mental health even if they aren’t the ones being physically abused.

“Often, if there’s somebody that’s abusive, they try to do it so nobody is watching, or they think the kids are not watching, but what we find is that kids that are living in a household where they have a parent that’s experiencing domestic violence, they know or sense that something is happening,” she said.

Many instances of child abuse also occurred throughout the Valley in the last year.

Rockingham County had the most investigated cases of any locality in the area with 248.

If you or someone you know is dealing with any form of domestic abuse you can call the First Step hotline at 540-434-0295.

You can learn more about the resources offered by First Step here.

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