Tysons, VA

Local police are bracing for an increase in the number of domestic violence cases now that a stay-at-home order is in effect in Virginia.

The Fairfax County Police Department has seen an “incremental uptick” in domestic violence calls in the county.

“While not an alarming uptick, we’re seeing slightly more than what we experienced prior to three weeks,” Sgt. Greg Bedor told Reston Now.

In the last three weeks, FCPD has received a weekly average of 235 domestic-related calls, data show. Most of the incidents are reported over the weekend on a weekly basis.

The police department is attempting to triage calls by separating people from their homes and conducting interviews over the phone when possible, according to FCPD.

Officers are also making an effort to encourage individuals to turn themselves in if an arrest is warranted.

Although the county’s Domestic Violence Hotline has not seen any increases in reported incidents, county officials are encouraging people to seek help.

They say rising unemployment and the pressure of bounding bills “during the already stressful coronavirus pandemic could lead to an increase in domestic violence.”

“For victims of domestic violence, being home may not be the safest place, particularly as people are financially and emotionally stressed,” said Toni Zollicoffer, Fairfax County’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Services division director. “Victims and survivors of recent sexual and intimate partner violence face unique challenges during this period of extended social distancing and isolation.

Her office offered the following tips:

Call or Text for Help 24/7

Call Fairfax County’s Domestic and Sexual Violence hotline: 703-360-7273, TTY 711. It’s available for help 24-hours a day, every day.

If it’s not safe to talk, text LOVEIS to 22522 to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You also can online chat with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

As always, anyone who is in immediate danger should call 9-1-1.

Plan Ahead

There are actions people can take to prepare, including:

  • Be aware of safe rooms with locks and which rooms have doors or windows for quick exit.  Discuss these with children and other family members.
  • Make a list of safe contacts and emergency resources. Some people find it helpful to hide copies of important documents and safe contacts somewhere outside the home, such as buried in a planter or at a safe neighbor’s home.
  • Plan with kids and other family members if you can. Think about their safety options. Think of a place you can go or send other family members in an emergency or long term.
  • Arrange daily check-ins or code words with people you trust.

What You Can Do

“If you are concerned about a friend or family member, it’s more important than ever to check in with them,” said Zollicoffer. “For resources or information on ways to assist those you are concerned about, call the Domestic Violence hotline.”

We can all play a role in preventing domestic violence. Encourage people who are experiencing abuse to make a safety plan, call for help and guidance and let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Let them know you are there to listen, help and support them without judgement.

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Next week, listeners can tune into another season of the Second Story podcast about homelessness.

The new season will premiere on Tuesday (Oct. 22), featuring stories of young adults and teens who overcame struggles of homelessness and abuse.

In the first episode, listeners will hear from a young woman named Bree who managed to escape an abusive relationship, Abigail Brougher, the podcast’s producer, said.

Second Story is a non-profit organization based out of Vienna that assists young people struggling with issues like homelessness, poverty or domestic issues.

The podcast was started to spread the organization’s message and educate the public on these issues within the community, Brougher said.

Bree’s story was chosen for the season premiere because Brougher said it set the tone for the rest of the season.

Bree took shelter with Second Story as a young mother and was later recruited to speak out about domestic violence on the podcast. Brougher said that Bree was “especially vulnerable” during this time in her life, and hearing her story will help people to acknowledge the issue of domestic violence.

Bree was forced to decide between homelessness or the constant threat of abuse, Brougher said. “It’s fairly common for young mothers to feel like they have to choose.”

Domestic Violence Awareness Month also happens to fall in October and calls attention to the issue that affects everyone, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status.

One in four women and one in nine men will be victims of domestic violence in their lives, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The podcasts tend to be around 30 minutes long, and new episodes will be available for free every Tuesday on Second Story’s website, as well as Spotify and Stitcher.

This season will consist of roughly nine episodes and feature various themes like domestic violence, PTSD and family trauma, Brougher said.

“Giving voice to this issue changes the narrative,” Brougher said.

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Mom Has Daughter Arrested for Theft — “A woman living in the 600 block of Gibson Circle, S.W., told Vienna police on Sept. 27 at 12:30 a.m. that her juvenile daughter allegedly had stolen her cell phone and punched a hole in a wall. The resident advised police she wished to pursue charges.” [InsideNova]

Uptick in Sexual Harassment Reports at FCPS — “The 2017-2018 Fairfax County Youth Survey found that 14.2 percent of students reported being sexually harassed in the past year, an increase of a full percentage point from the 13.2 percent in the survey issued during the 2016-2017 school year. Female students are three times more likely than male students to report experiencing sexual harassment as 20.8 percent of girls said they had been harassed compared to 7.3 percent of boys.” [Fairfax County Times]

Hurricane Michael Could Soak Region — The remnants of Hurricane Michael, which is on a collision course with the Florida panhandle, could bring an inch or so of rain to Fairfax County between late Wednesday night and Friday. [Capital Weather Gang]

Tysons Firm Announces Merger — Tysons-based Telarix Inc. last week “announced its merger with Starhome Mach, the leading global provider of SaaS wholesale and retail roaming, clearing, settlement and fraud prevention solutions.” The combined company will be headquartered in Tysons. [Starhome Mach]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month in FFX — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Fairfax County held an event to remind residents to “make the call to end domestic violence.” The county’s 24-hour domestic and sexual violence hotline is 703-360-7273. [YouTube]

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