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The Bridge: Isolation can make domestic violence worse
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The Bridge: Isolation can make domestic violence worse

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Isolation can be tough for anyone.

But it can be dangerous for someone in an abusive relationship.

Job loss, financial stress and quarantines are occurring amid the spread of the coronavirus.

Such circumstances can add to already difficult situations.

So staffers at The Bridge have tips for those in domestic violence relationships—and for those who might know people in these circumstances.

And agency staffers want the public to know that they’re here to help.

The Bridge provides services for individuals and families who experience domestic violence and sexual assault in Dodge, Washington, Saunders, Burt and Cuming counties.

Kylie Kampschneider, sexual assault advocate, described the additional stress related to the coronavirus.

“Isolation is huge right now, but in a domestic violence relationship it’s even worse because you can’t go to work and get a little bit of space,” Kampschneider said. “Your kids are probably home with you. That kind of adds to some of the stress as well. Finances can be a huge stress for people who are out of work.”

Suzanne Smith, executive director, also expressed concern.

“We are concerned about the impact of self-quarantine and isolation,” Smith said. “We know that isolation is a strong tactic used by individuals who use abuse to control their partners.”

Smith pointed out the psychological factors involved.

“When your abuser is the only person you are having contact with and they are telling you that you are worthless, everything is your fault and you deserve every bit of abuse that is happening to you, then you start to believe it,” Smith said. “That is what the abuser wants. They want you to doubt yourself, to doubt your value. It makes you vulnerable and depressed.”

Smith encourages people to seek help.

“The Bridge will continue to provide 24-hour crisis intervention services and that will not change,” Smith said. “We know this is a very stressful time for our community and we will be here for them.”

To ensure everyone’s health and safety, the agency will provide as many of its services as possible through phone contact.

Advocates can be reached through the 24-hour crisis line at 402-727-7777 or 1-888-721-4340.

Linda Schlapfer, outreach coordinator for The Bridge, offered these reminders:

  • Women’s group clients can still receive support via a phone conference on the scheduled group night. Clients will be reminded of confidentiality, interacting during the conference in a private setting.
  • Besides the crisis line, individuals are encouraged to stay connected with The Bridge through Facebook, thebridgeformerlycrisiscenter, and Instagram postings of messages and community offerings for those in need.

Kampschneider offers these tips:

  • If it’s safe, reach out to family and friends or call The Bridge. “If people reach out to us, we can come up with individualized safety plans,” Kampschneider said.
  • Email The Bridge at info@bridgefromviolence.com or send the agency a message via Facebook.
  • Have the belongings you need if you are preparing to leave.

Tips for those who might know of someone in an abusive situation include:

Check on co-workers and neighbors. “If you can run to the store for them or watch their kids for them—anything to help,” Kampschneider said. “Maintaining that social connection with people online or over the phone is super important so the isolation doesn’t worsen.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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