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Domestic violence counselors brace for possible uptick

ROANOKE (AP) Domestic violence counselors in Virginia say they are are preparing for a possible increase in cases as people spend more time at home during quarantines prompted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Groups such as Total Action for Progress are concerned, The Roanoke Times reported.

Stacey Sheppard, TAP’s director of human services, said the nonprofit’s crisis intervention staffers have seen before the effect of major snowstorms and other events that keep people shut in together and add strain to an already stressful situation.

“These are increasingly stressful times already,” Sheppard said. “So we’ve been preparing and planning, talking through what ifs and how we can handle an increase in volume.”

Advocates say they want people to know that services are still up and running.

“We’re still actively taking clients,” said Capt. Jamie Clay, residential director with the domestic violence shelter offered by the Salvation Army of Roanoke.

The Salvation Army now checks the temperature of all who come into its shelter and has made adjustments to allow for more distance between people as recommended by health officials.

SARA Roanoke, a sexual assault crisis center, has shifted its counseling clients to tele-appointments to observe social distancing and allow its staffers to work from home as much as possible.

The center still mans its round-the-clock emergency hotline, said Executive Director Teresa Berry.

“We’re working to maintain as much as we can while at the same time keeping everybody safe,” Berry said.

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