Story by: Beth Fitzpatrick
With stay at home restrictions in place, the coronavirus has triggered a rise in domestic abuse throughout Connecticut. Individuals and families are now faced with choosing between health risks associated with the coronavirus or staying at home with an abusive partner. The Center for Family Justice (CFJ), which provides crisis and support service to victims of domestic and sexual abuse in six local communities, is working tirelessly to keep vulnerable residents safe during the coronavirus. CFJ recently partnered with Bank of America to ensure its services are still available to victims of abuse.
“Having Bank of America’s support at this critical time is a game changer for us as we strive to meet the growing and unprecedented needs of individuals and families experiencing what amounts to a second pandemic of trauma and abuse,” said Deborah A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “We are incredibly grateful to Bank of America for its incredible generosity.”
Since Gov. Ned Lamont announced social distancing guidelines in March, Greenwood noted domestic violence crimes are on the rise throughout the state while rates for most other crimes have declined significantly. Meanwhile, the Safe Connect program run by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), noted a 54 percent increase in calls to its domestic violence hotlines throughout the state in April.
CFJ’s Kathie’s Place safe house, a 2019 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders awardee, is at capacity and has been throughout the pandemic. “We have kept Kathie’s Place fully-staffed and operational as it is critical that victims have a safe place to go with their families,” explained Greenwood. “At the height of this health crisis, we were able to move a family escaping domestic violence into the safe house through the extraordinary efforts of our staff. Because of the support of Bank of America, we are able to continue to provide safety and protection to victims and their families.”
As an awardee, CFJ receives a $200,000 grant, a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader at the organization, a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact. Over the past 15 years, Bank of America has invested $240 million in 49 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and helping more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills.
“Supporting our most vulnerable communities during the coronavirus is imperative, which is why Bank of America has committed local grants to non-profits throughout Connecticut,” said Bill Tommins, Southern Connecticut Market President for Bank of America. “With the unfortunate rise in domestic abuse, the bank’s partnership with the Center for Family Justice is vital to residents in need. We thank CFJ for being a strong advocate and safe harbor for domestic abuse victims.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic or sexual violence and need help, call the Domestic Abuse hotline at 203.384.9559 or the Sexual Abuse Hotline at 203.333.2233.