Domestic violence counselors provide virtual support during COVID-19 outbreak

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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — As communities are advised to stay home more during the coronavirus outbreak, mental health professionals want those struggling with domestic violence to know that help is still available.

“We don’t have that face-to-face interaction anymore, and sometimes that one hour that they have in our office is their hour of safe," explained Cindy Capriles, Director of Counseling for Safe Harbor Shelter. “There’s a lot of concern with being stuck at home with your abuser and not feeling safe, even at your own home.”

Capriles says they have continued to offer tele-counseling, through video chat or checking in via a phone call.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is clients now trying to de-escalate as best they can - just to get through the time, and avoid any incidents or crisis," she explained.

There are several hotline numbers available for the community to call for help, and Capriles says it is important that people know there is a crisis line they can text if they don’t feel comfortable speaking on the phone.

• Crisis Text Line: Text hello to 741741
• National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
• Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Capriles is encouraging clients to stay connected to their support system, even if they have to do so virtually.

“Make sure they have those connections with family, have safe code words, so family knows to respond or react if something were to happen," she said. “Keep practicing coping skills, deep breathing, going outside if they can.”