TOPEKA – (October 12, 2020) – As Domestic Violence Awareness Month continues through October, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked Kansans to be mindful of ways they can help identify the signs of domestic violence and support victims, especially during this time of greater social isolation caused by the pandemic.
“Domestic violence is an epidemic of its own that threatens the health and safety of many Kansans on a daily basis,” Schmidt said. “With so many people spending much more time isolated in their homes, access to the normal support systems of friends, neighbors or co-workers has been strained.”
The Office of Attorney General’s Victims Services Division provides access to resources to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, including access to crisis housing, counseling and compensation. The division provides grant funding to domestic violence victim service agencies across the state, many of which have had to adjust and adapt services during the pandemic.
Michelle McCormick, Director of Victims Services and Victim Rights Coordinator for the Attorney General's Office, said agencies statewide have reported concerns that include victims not knowing that crisis services, such as emergency shelter, continue to be available during the pandemic. She said another concern is that domestic violence victims may be experiencing more severe forms of physical violence during this time.
“The anecdotal reports that are coming from advocates we work closely with indicate that they are seeing severe physical injuries with the victims they serve, possibly more than they have in the past,” McCormick said.
Schmidt said the developments underscore the urgent need to provide victims and survivors with the tools and resources they need to be safe, as well as the need for well-trained law enforcement, victim advocates, court staff and prosecutors, to meet the demands of the increase in reports. The attorney general also has asked Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which gives states resources to help victims and strengthen the criminal justice response to domestic violence.
A list of warning signs of a potentially violent relationship can be found on the attorney general's website at https://ag.ks.gov/dv-warning-signs. The list can be helpful for a self-evaluation of a relationship, and includes a link to resources for getting help.
For more information about domestic violence and resources for assistance, please contact the Office of Attorney General’s Victim Services Division at 1-800-828-9745 or www.ag.ks.gov/victim-services. For 24-hour helpline assistance in Kansas, please call: 1-888-END-ABUSE or 1-888-363-2287.