Domestic violence shelter continues to help during COVID-19

GSH Executive Director, Dr. Branka Bryan.

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Grace Smith House (GSH), a Poughkeepsie-based domestic violence shelter, is aware of the uptick in domestic violence incidents that have been attributed to the COVID-19 “Stay Home” orders.  As part of their continued efforts to assist victims of domestic violence, the GSH is still available to assist domestic violence victims and survivors, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Social distancing, isolation, working from home, school cancellations – all of these things create a perfect storm for those in abusive situations,” said Grace Smith House Executive Director Branka Bryan. 

While the measures are key to stopping the spread of COVID-19, they also “cut victims off from some of the supports they may have had in place,” Bryan added.  

Grace Smith House, a nonprofit domestic violence agency in Dutchess County, is continuing to provide critical services such as shelter, advocacy, and support to victims and their families during this difficult time. For some victims, these services are a lifeline.

Providing these services during the pandemic presents challenges, such as ensuring the shelter remains a safe environment while following healthcare guidelines, teaching kids how to practice social distancing, and helping victims cope with the anxiety of having their court cases put on hold during the COVID-19 outbreak.  

“We have had to become even more creative in connecting with victims and helping them work through situations while keeping staff safe,” Bryan said. “Having to suspend our support groups has been one of our most difficult challenges. Social connections are a critical aspect of the healing process. Groups provide a support system for others who went through the same thing.”

Victims and survivors can call the Grace Smith House hotline 24/7 to discuss their options, get emotional support and more. The hotline can be reached at 845-471-3033. More information can be found at the Grace Smith House.

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