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As stay-at-home orders may increase domestic abuse, Catholic Charities provides resources for aid

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington offers local help to families suffering from domestic abuse. Please visit to help you or someone you love who is in need of help. (Catholic Charities graphic) 

As families retreat to their homes in effort to combat the coronavirus with social distancing precautions and stay-at-home orders, some families, particularly those who may suffer from domestic abuse, may find themselves in dangerous situations. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, in partnership with parishes and other organizations, has resources to help those suffering from domestic abuse.

“The covid-19 crisis is making life particularly difficult for families suffering abuse,” said Laura Yeomans, program manager for the Parish Partners Program of Catholic Charities. “We know from the past when there is a national crisis, (and) high unemployment, that violence in families increases.”

The Parish Partners Program works with parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Washington to provide emergency assistance to families in need, including victims of domestic abuse.

“We’re hearing of incidents of abuse, and we’re very concerned that those dangerous situations are increasing,” Yeomans said. “It’s a very important time for parish staff and leaders who are doing anything online, to include resources where families can turn.”

Information can be found on Catholic Charities’s website: Calling the national domestic violence hotline number, 1-800-799-7233, is also a resource for agencies that can help provide plans for safety, shelter and counseling services. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

“Because of covid-19, the hotline welcomes calls from lay leaders and family members concerned for others because they know many families in danger cannot call for themselves,” Yeomans said.

According to Yeomans, domestic abuse can appear in physical, sexual and emotional forms.

“It may include threats of violence, isolation, not sharing family financial resources, or the misuse or abuse of children,” she said.

If someone is aware of someone who may be suffering from abuse, Yeomans encourages people to stay in touch if it is safe and listen to those who may be suffering, she said.

“Call a local domestic violence program, and learn about their services that can help,” she said. “Your sister or friend may not herself be able to call for help, but you can make the call and find programs near her that can help.”

Prior to mandates and executive orders requiring people to stay within their homes, victims could reach out more easily to friends and family, and even to their pastors at Mass, she said.

“Unfortunately right now, it is very difficult for families experiencing domestic abuse at home to have private moments and space to reach out for help,” Yeomans said.

But for families suffering abuse, Yeomans said, “take comfort, you are not alone.” Many programs and parishes are still able to provide services to families in a crisis, she said.

Yeomans also encourages those who are not experiencing abuse to take the time to learn more about how to assist those who are.

“Create space to listen to people who have been suffering,” she said. “Set aside any preconceived notions you may have… ask them, ‘What step would you like to feel safer?’”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges charitable organizations such as Catholic Charities and parishes to help families get to safety.

Catholics for Family Peace, an education and research initiative of the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America, lifts up victims of domestic abuse and violence each day in prayer at 3 p.m.. They invite all to join with them in praying for family members and friends who are victims as well as agencies that work to help victims of domestic violence find safety.

Parishes looking for more information on providing resources to those in need can contact Laura Yeomans at