‘We are still here’: Safe Habor a haven for domestic abuse victims amid pandemic


Surge of domestic abuse incidents in Richmond

(WRIC) — An unfortunate consequence of families staying home during the coronavirus outbreak is a surge in domestic violence.

The number of domestic abuse incidents is soaring in some communities nationwide while the city of Richmond has its own startling statistics.

The Richmond Police Department tells 8News the number of domestic abuse incidents from January to mid-April is up to seven percent compared to the same time last year. 

“Whether it be a five-minute call instead of a one-hour session, we are still here for you,” said Cindy Caprilles, the director of counseling at Safe Harbor, a domestic abuse treatment center in Henrico County. 

Safe Harbor is one of several local domestic abuse treatment centers still working to keep families safe while staying inside during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If you’re at home with your abuser, it’s harder for you to contact folks for help,” Caprilles said.
She also said the amount of times people have been reaching out for help has been on the rise.

Cindy Caprilles

“Yeah, a lot more anxiety, a lot more stress,” she said. 

As a result of the pandemic, counseling methods are now being done over the phone, email, or via video calls

“We’ve talked with them about using safe words,” Caprilles said, “starting each session with ‘hello it’s very sunny out today’ so we know it’s OK to continue.”

How the center helps victims needing to get out is also changing. 

“We are still taking folks into the shelter,” Caprilles said. “It’s looking a little differently now. They’re not coming into our actual shelter but we’re providing hotel stays.”

The domestic abuse treatment center’s services are free to anyone who needs them. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to the following numbers:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text hello to 741741
  • Richmond Regional Hotline: (804) 612-6126
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233


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