Listening to some of the news is very depressing, but we all need to keep abreast of what is going on in our community as well as the world and try to figure out what we must do to help solve the problems.

I was not surprised to hear that domestic violence is on the rise. Basic needs not being met can lead to individuals who have not been introduced to problem-solving techniques lashing out at the persons closest to them. Now that we are being encouraged to shelter in our homes, that does not mean everyone is enjoying the time to get closer. For some families it is not a good time.

After hearing about the increase in violence, I reached out to the director of Lips Unchained to see how she was doing, and to find out if indeed her research found that to be true. She responded immediately, saying that her calls have increased and it is disturbing to all of her staff involved.

When she wrote back, she asked that this be shared: “While some people are being confined in their homes enjoying their families while escaping this coronavirus outbreak, other families are confined in their homes filled with physical, sexual, mental and verbal abuse and pain.”

Many couples have posted jokes on Facebook about how tough it is to be living with the husband or wife for long periods of time. Many are praying for shelter in place to end soon, before the husband or wife is in permanent forever shelter in place. Several friends posted that it will not be COVID-19 that kills their husbands or wives. It is going to be me, one said.

I am pleading guilty as charged if he or she leaves the toilet down or up one more time. He has got one more time to place the empty orange juice carton back in the refrigerator. He has one more time to put dirty clothes on top of the washing machine as if he does not know that, in order for clothes to get washed, they must first be put in the machine. He has got one more time to misplace his “Honey Do” list. I have made out five already.

Do not waste the state’s money trying to prove anything. I have not even committed the crime yet, but I am so sure it is going to happen that I am making my plea of Guilty as Charged in advance.

The aforementioned statements are how many family members are playfully carrying on. These are the ones with jobs, money in the bank, food on the shelves, refrigerator and freezer full, husband doing and saying the right things, wives washing ironing scrubbing and cooking good nutritional meals. Things are going just right. Or this is how the ones who have learned to deal with stressful situations without letting them take them out are playing with each other.

Let us not forget that there are millions of people living under the stay-at-home orders who have been laid off from work, and they are away from their everyday routine. That alone can cause an increase in abuse due to the different levels of anxiety brought on by mental imbalance. The Lips Unchained director stated, “The stress levels are higher now and a lot more mental health issues are being triggered during this crisis for abusers. A lot of unsafe victims and children are locked in their homes with the abusers at this time.”

The director shared these observations. “Before this coronavirus took place there was already a large amount of calls made to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Every 15 seconds calls were being made across the U.S for domestic violence help, and now the calls are increasing. As the numbers rise for the COVID-19 virus, so are the numbers for domestic violence hotlines. The stressors are causing some people to become new victims while other victims feel stuck and isolated with the same abuser who is only acting out worse due to the level of anxiety caused by dealing with COVID-19.”

To make matters worse, we now have female and male abusers locked in with children who are also out of their safe place — school. Everyone is now forced to take the punishment and be quiet about it.

The director is saying that you can still call that hotline number and get help. There are several resources that are available with 24-hour crisis lines that are willing to help in these situations: YOU ARE NOT FORCED TO STAY. THERE IS A WAY OUT!

The Hospitality House in Rome has a crisis line, 706-235-4673. Lips Unchained is at 1-800-799-SAFE.

These are groups of supportive women and men who are willing to help with most situations. You are not alone. Please allow us all to help.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome. She is the founder and director of the African American Connection of the Performing Arts Inc. and a 2020 Heart of the Community Award of Honor recipient.

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