Story by: Scott D. Yost
The coronavirus pandemic has in some cases brought families closer together.
However, in a recent report to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, Guilford County Family Justice Center Director Catherine Johnson told the board that the COVID-19 crisis has created a harrowing situation for victims of domestic violence and has led to a dramatic increase in those incidences and related crimes.
Johnson addressed the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at the board’s Thursday, Oct. 1 meeting, and she said that, nationally and locally, the pandemic has created a dangerous situation for many.
“We are seeing a dramatic rise in domestic violence, homicide and an increase of victims who say weapons were involved,” Johnson told the commissioners.
“There is also an increase of crimes against children on the internet and also strangulation,” which she called “the most deadly form of domestic violence.”
“We also know that the isolation of children and older adults is only showing the tip of the iceberg for what is happening in our community,” she added.
Since the pandemic began in mid-March, Johnson said, there have been over 4,000 people who have come to one of the county’s two Family Justice Centers for help.
Guilford County has one center in downtown Greensboro and another in the county’s courthouse in downtown High Point.
Johnson said that, especially given the conditions created by the pandemic – which have brought unemployment, economic worries and isolation – victims have been filled with “lots of pain and plenty of uncertainty.”
According to Johnson, being a victim of domestic violence right now is more of a challenge than ever.
That goes for workers in the field as well. Johnson said she works with a large number of professionals who handle these types of situations and she added that many told her that this was the most difficult time they had ever had to work through.
On a more optimistic note, Johnson told the board her staff and others she works with have been finding new and innovative ways to address the problem in a world where the pandemic has forced them to do so.
“They are going above and beyond, and they are weary,” she said.
Johnson said she was honored to work alongside so many impressive, dedicated professionals who are continuing to do their job at a very high level despite adverse circumstances.