Record editorial: Abuse victims face an additional threat during the pandemic. Let’s do what we can to keep them safe.
The coronavirus and the resulting stay-at-home restrictions have changed life for everybody in Summit County.
For some, though, the repercussions are far more serious than battling bouts of boredom, canceling spring break vacations or even grappling with the loss of employment.
Experts in recent weeks have said the isolation required to fight the spread of COVID-19 puts victims of domestic violence or other kinds of abuse at even greater risk than normal.
It’s a heartbreaking — and enraging — scenario: The very place keeping most people safe from the most frightening pandemic in a century is also where many of our neighbors and loved ones are in the most danger.
And don’t be fooled — our community’s affluence is no shield. The reality is that, as long as residents are largely confined to their homes, many people in Park City and Summit County are at an elevated risk of abuse.
Thankfully, the victims are not alone.
While the coronavirus has temporarily shut down businesses and services in the county, the organizations providing refuge to people in need have not abandoned their vital roles. The Peace House, which provides shelter and other resources for domestic abuse victims, continues to offer an outstretched hand. As does the Summit County Children’s Justice Center, whose mission of preventing children who’ve been abused from suffering further trauma continues despite the pandemic.
The help of community members is also needed. In addition to donating items like food, basic necessities and cleaning supplies to the Peace House, residents should check in on people they believe may be at risk. That’s particularly important because the measures to counter COVID-19 play right into the hands of abusers, who often seek to isolate their victims from loved ones and outside resources.
To that point, residents shouldn’t be shy about involving the authorities if they suspect someone is in danger. Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson recently put it this way: “See it, hear it, report it.”
That’s excellent advice we should follow even when the pandemic ends, as abuse far too often goes unreported.
Like the extensive efforts we’ve taken in Summit County to limit the transmission of the coronavirus, we must all do everything in our power to ensure a different kind of threat does not spread silently in our community.
More information about the Peace House is available at peacehouse.org, and the nonprofit also offers a 24/7 support line at 800-647-9161. Information about the Children’s Justice Center is available at summitcounty.org/593/Childrens-Justice-Center. People in need can contact the Summit County victim advocate at 435-615-3851.
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