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Domestic abuse shelters seeing fewer children, families

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:17 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Shelters and programs that help free people from domestic abuse and dangerous relationships say they’re seeing a change in the people they’re helping. With that, they want to show friends and families how to better spot potential abuse.

The living quarters at Golden House in Green Bay are never empty for long these days, but the people seeking shelter and safety here are not who Golden House is used to seeing.

“Even compared to last year, we would have been at full capacity and you could have heard little feet running up and down the halls. But this year and right now, we only have one family in shelter, and the rest are singles,” executive director Cheeia Lo said.

While the number of people hasn’t changed, Lo thinks school being virtual may be a reason there aren’t more families because children in need may not be identified as quickly.

“Then we’re also thinking that since people are working from home, the abusers are home, which makes it harder for family to leave as well. And then you throw away the financial piece, too, is, ‘How can I afford to leave? How can I afford to support my children? And who is going to watch my kids while I’m at work?’”

That makes it more important than ever for friends and family to step in. That might mean more phone calls or just stopping by their home, but the key is continuing to do that.

“Most of the victims that we often see is that they feel like they have burned all the bridges by pushing their loved one away, so by the time they are to the point of ‘I need to leave,’ they don’t feel like they can reach out to family or friends anymore.”

Lo also says if the person you care about is still in a relationship, it’s not helpful to call a person an abuser because the victim not only might not realize it yet but the emotional abuse could change the way they see themselves.

“After being called ‘you’re stupid, you’re stupid’ so many times, you start believing that you are actually stupid. Or, being told that you can never find a job, ‘No one will ever hire you’ or ‘no one will ever date you,’” Lo said. "Most people don’t even know they are in an abusive relationship until they after they’re out of the relationship.”

CLICK HERE for links to resources for victims of domestic abuse.

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