Arkansas shelter fills with victims as rate of domestic violence crimes rises

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WYNNE, Ark. – WREG has been reporting for months how domestic violence and sexual abuse cases are on the rise as a result of COVID-19. It’s gotten so bad some shelters are out of space.

Phoebe Curtis manages the Second Chance Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter in Wynne, Arkansas.

Right now, the shelter is full.

“We have an absolutely full house. Our capacity is around ten to 15 guests, depending on the family make up,” Curtis says.

Curtis says the COVID-19 pandemic—a health crisis on its own—has created a shock wave of domestic abuse cases.

“There’s unemployment, a lot of people are out of school, out of work, they’re at home, they’re spending more time together which increases the ‘stressers’ in our lives,” Curtis says.

So far, 33 women and 24 children have found temporary emergency housing here in what Curtis describes as a region of great need.

The shelter depends in part on sales of donated clothing and other items at the Second Chance Thrift Store.

This is where Anna Scott not only shops but volunteers as well.

“There’s so many people that do need help, going through abuse situations, and this is a wonderful way to raise funds for them,” Scott said.

It’s all about making the community and victims of domestic violence aware help is just a phone call away.

Jena Watlington says only a victim can truly explain the feeling of helplessness.

“I was in an abusive marriage for 12 years, mentally and physically. So, if there was something like this when that happened, I would have went there. So, it means a lot,” Watlington said. “It’s hard to get out. So, if there’s just someone in the family or friends or just someone in the community that can help you and get you out, it’s so much better.”

You can click here to learn more about Second Chance Shelter in Wynne.

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