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If We Shelter In Place, How Will Domestic Violence Victims Stay Safe? And Other Questions Answered

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The coronavirus outbreak is making us all think a little differently — about how we interact with each other, how we work, and how we stay safe. Listeners have reached out to WFAE with a variety of questions and we thought it would be good to check in with you now to let you know what we’ve found.

GWENDOLYN GLENN: WFAE’s Sarah Delia has some of those answers to listener questions and she joins me now, good afternoon Sarah.

SARAH DELIA: Thanks for having me.

GLENN: So Sarah, one question listeners have asked us is about resources for victims of domestic violence. People want to know what they should do if they feel unsafe in their home and a “shelter in place” mandate is made. What did you find?

DELIA: I posed that to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and they provided a list of local resources we have that we have put on wfae.org. They range from the advocacy group Safe Alliance to the Domestic Violence Department at CMPD. The good news is there are many free resources for folks, and again they are listed at wfae.org.

GLENN: So it sounds like this is something that advocates are worried about?

DELIA: Yes, I spoke to Crystal Emerick, the founder of Brave Step, a non-profit that supports sexual assault survivors and survivors of abuse, and she said they were discussing this very issue today. There’s a lot of concern for people who live in unsafe situations and what they’ll do if we are told to shelter in place. She suggested for people who feel unsafe at home, to ask a trusted family member, friend, or coworker to check in and see how that person is doing. She also says people are encouraged to check in on the Brave Step Facebook page to stay connected.

There’s also the National Domestic Violence hotline and the National Sexual Assault hotline, both are confidential and free and operated 24/7. Mecklenburg District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said that any survivor who wants information about their pending case can call the DA’s office and also said the Greater Charlotte Hope Line is another good resource for victims. Again those resources are listed at wfae.org.

GLENN: Another question listeners have asked about is in regards to the police. Did CMPD say if they were making any changes in the way they interact with the public in light of the coronavirus?

DELIA: CMPD says officers responding to call for service involving someone who is suspected to have or has a confirmed case of COVID-19 have been instructed to use Personal Protective Equipment. That includes things like disposable gloves, disposable isolation gowns, goggles, and masks.

GLENN: And finally Sarah, since dining in at restaurants and bars has been banned and the number of people allowed to gather is limited, who is enforcing that?

DELIA: CMPD has been tasked with enforcing the Mecklenburg County Health Director’s order on restricting mass gatherings.

CMPD said business and organizations have been cooperative with the new restrictions. The police do have the authority to issue citations or misdemeanor charges if a business or organization is not complying. But today, CMPD hasn’t issued any.

If community members observe an organization or business violating the new restrictions, they can call 311 to report it.

GLENN: WFAE’s Sarah Delia, thanks.

DELIA: Thanks, Gwen.

For full list of resources, click here.

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What questions do you have about the coronavirus? What has this experience been like for you? Share your questions below.

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