Help for domestic violence victims during COVID-19 pandemic

Help for domestic violence victims during COVID-19 pandemic

Businesses and organizations in our area are continuing to close because of concerns over the coronavirus.

But one Palm Beach County non-profit organization that helps people who are dealing with domestic violence wants to make it clear that they are open.

"It impacts a lot of people," said Brooke Johnston.

Johnston is a survivor.

"From a very young age, I think as early as I can remember, I remember my sister being hit all of my sisters being actually being hit on several occasions," said Johnston.

Johnston said the man behind the abuse was her father. Over the years it only escalated.

"He walked in and he like got into my face. He said next time you embarrass me like that’s it, or you’re done something like that. He slammed the door and I was sitting there like I got to get out because if I want a chance of a life that I’m proud of and that I can stand up on my own and not deal with this. I’m going to have to make a call," said Johnston.

At 18 years old she left her family's home and never looked back. Now she’s working alongside Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, or AVDA. The organization is working overtime to help those who may be vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think when you’re in close quarters with your abuser and it’s not recommended to leave because of what’s going on with the coronavirus, you feel more trapped than you would be in other situations," said Johnston.

Pam O’Brien, the President of AVDA, said they are still fully staffed.

"We provide shelter services up to 90 people at any one time between shelter and transitional housing. We also provide comprehensive violence prevention programming so we can prevent violence moving forward," said O'Brien.

O’Brien warns against trying to shelter a domestic abuse victim on your own, but says any one who needs help should call their hot line.

"We can also advise of how to be safe and how to help others," said O'Brien.

AVDA said they are accepting donations from the public, especially cleaning supplies.

To learn more about AVDA and to donate, click here.

Scripps Only Content 2020