Victims of domestic violence have flooded into Williamsport’s emergency shelter this year toppling the already rising cases of abuse over the past few years.
The YWCA’s Wise Options has served nearly 500 victims of domestic violence since July 1, according to its Program Director Amber Morningstar. In total, this year there is a roughly 100 case increase from the previous year, she added.
But, more concerning is that as the cases rise in frequency they also have increased in lethality, Morningstar said.
“There is a lot more intense stuff going on,” she said, including incidents like strangulation, death threats and gun violence.
Domestic abusers will assert dominance over their victims by driving them into isolation and during a pandemic when jobs are lost and public functions are cancelled options for outside human interaction are slim.
Abuse claims had already begun rising over the past few years, Morningstar said. During an average year resident numbers in the city’s emergency shelter rise and fall, but this year they have been at, or near, capacity for the entire year.
“It’s more prominent now than ever,” Morningstar said. “We’ve got people coming in and out constantly.”
Wise Options also offers other rapid rehousing programs for abuse victims who need to find a new home on short notice.
“It’s a really great tool for us to get them out.” Morningstar said.
Anyone in need of help should call 1-800-326-8483 or 570-323-8167.
Morningstar stressed that even during the pandemic, the Wise Options counselors are still available to help anyone in need.
“While the advocates at Wise Options may not be considered frontline workers, they are,” she said. “We have continued to service this vulnerable population during this pandemic.”