Q&A with Executive Director of Wichita Family Crisis Center on issue of domestic violence
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With many forced to stay at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarming statistic stands out: an alarming increase in domestic violence.
Wednesday, Michael Schwanke sat down for a remote interview with Wichita Family Crisis Center Executive Director Amanda Myers to talk about what she's seeing and what we can do to help.
Michael SchwankeI'm pleased to be joined right now by Amanda Meyers. She's the executive director with Wichita Family Crisis Center, and we've been talking with Amanda here over the past few days. Amanda, when it comes to abuse within the home you are seeing some concerning signals on your end.
Amanda MeyersAbsolutely, we've seen an increase in the amount of violence but also in the severity of the violence. Victims are coming to us in really bad shape. It's really tough out there and so we're really grateful we can help and we can be a resource to the community right now.
Michael SchwankeWhen you say victims, is it mostly children. Is it women, too?
Amanda MeyersThe majority of our clients are women with children, I would say 90 percent of our clients are women who come with one or more children.
Michael SchwankeWe were talking about this before, Amanda, but it's kind of a perfect storm right now for stressors in a house, because you are confined in the house, people can't really get out and about. There are financial pressures for people, it's stressful right now trying to teach kids in this at-home school environment we have. It is the perfect storm, isn't it?
Amanda MeyersIt truly is, I mean, people are afraid for so many different things, afraid for their health, afraid for their financial security, there's no more social outlet necessarily, and home can be a really safe place for a lot of people, but these factors can really exacerbate the situation when home is not a safe place to begin with.
Michael SchwankeAnd you said, not only are you seeing more abuse situation, but the severity of abuse concerns you most.
Amanda MeyersIt really does, and that kind of tracks with what I know at least the police are seeing in terms of the increase in aggravated assaults and aggravated batteries they've recorded over the last month or so. And we truly are seeing people coming to us with much more severe physical injuries which is terrifying and really sad.
Michael SchwankeAnd why is that, do you think? Because they are not going to a school or workplace and they're not going to be seen?
Amanda MeyersI think it's that, I think it's also, like I said, it's so many stressful factors coming together. I think we're all experiencing stress and uncertainty right now and for someone who is abusive, they're going to take it out by being more severely abusive to their victim, their wife, their children, what have you.
Michael SchwankeI don't want to just leave it with what the problem is. I think people watching will want to know, "is there anything I can do?"
Amanda MeyersOh, I’m so glad that you asked that. First of all, check in on your friends and your loved ones. It is, like i said, it is rough out there and it is so easy to socially isolate. And physical abuse and domestic violence doesn’t usually start with punching and kicking. It starts with the subtle power-control verbal abuse, emotional abuse. So check in with your friends and your family, and if you see something give us a call. and if you’re in that kind of situation, don’t hesitate to give us a call, just check it out with us, i think that’s very important before it rises to the level of a life-threatening situation.
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