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SAFE & DV Outreach During COVID-19

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By:

Laura Tenbus

May 4, 2020
Many activities have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but Kelly Truax, Community Outreach Coordinator for GBMC’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) and Domestic Violence (DV) Program, refuses to slow down. “We aren’t cancelling events, we’re rescheduling them and going virtual when possible,” she said.

Kelly is passionate about education and prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence in the community. Before the pandemic, the SAFE and DV Program regularly presented in schools, healthcare settings, businesses, youth centers, and any other places that requested educational information. Guidelines for social distancing may have changed the way presentations are given, but that has not stopped the team. “We will give a presentation to anyone – whether it’s for three people or 300,” said Kelly.

When asked what she sees as one of the biggest misconceptions in the community, she said people often don’t recognize how frequently abuse and assault happens – especially in vulnerable populations. It isn’t well known, but individuals with disabilities are at a very high risk of abuse. In certain cases, victims are unable to communicate that abuse is happening, so it’s incredibly important for those who care for them to be able to recognize the red flags. This include, but are not limited to:
  • Reluctance to be left alone with a particular person
  • Anxiety, depression, and/or withdrawn behavior
  • Increased nightmares or other sleep problems
  • Refusal to change clothes
  • Difficulty sitting or standing (if the person is able to do so)
  • Regressive behaviors such as bed wetting or thumb sucking
  • Sexual knowledge that is inappropriate for the person’s age
GBMC’s SAFE and DV Program also works closely with law enforcement to ensure they are trained to respond to crisis situations involving abuse. Kelly is heartened to see an increase in requests for presentations and education. Sexual assault and domestic violence do not discriminate, and every person deserves informed, compassionate care. Click here to learn more about educational opportunities or how to request a presentation.

The SAFE and DV Program is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and provides care to patients at no cost. GBMC urges all victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, or domestic violence, to seek help using one of the safe and private resources available 24/7 (see below). You are not alone, we are here to help.

Baltimore County Police Department
  • If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
  • If 911 is not an option, have a family member or friend call the non-emergency number at 410-887-2222, email iwatch@baltimorecountymd.gov, or call the Special Victims Unit at 410-887-2223.
GBMC’s SAFE and DV Program – 443-849-3323, www.gbmc.org/safe-dv

The Family Tree (parenting helpline) – 1-800-243-7337 or live chat at www.familytreemd.org
  • Connects parents to resources to prevent child abuse and provides family counseling, children and youth services, and public policy and advocacy
Turn Around (helpline) – 443-279-0379, www.turnaroundinc.org
  • Provides therapeutic services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence including legal advocacy, shelter, employment readiness, and case management
House of Ruth Maryland – 410-889-7884, www.hruth.org
  • Provides services to victims of intimate partner violence including emergency shelter, legal clinic services, counseling services, and abuse intervention
Family Crisis Center – Office: 410-285-4357 – Shelter: 410-285-7496

Baltimore County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Hotline – 410-828-6390

SARC Harford County – 410-836-8430

National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
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