Albemarle Hopeline has seen an increase in the need of its serves since the COVID pandemic began in March, said a staff member during a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Hertford.

Elizabeth Thomas, an Outreach Coordinator/Children’s Counselor who deals specifically with Domestic Violence, spoke earlier the month to the club during a Zoom meeting.

She said that while Hopeline has seen an increase of abuse victims, there are probably more victims that they don’t know about because the victims do have access the agency’s services because of the isolation caused by the pandemic.

“Not everyone has a computer. Not everyone has access to a computer or a phone that would be private, but yes, there’s been an increase of abuse,” she said.

Domestic abuse can take many forms — physical, mental, sexual and economic, just to name a few. They can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status, Thomas said.

The mission of Hopeline is elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault through education, intervention, support, and transitional assistance until the dream comes true. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

As the outreach coordinator, Thomas said she reaches victims and survivors to inform them about Hopeline’s services. Domestic violence and sexual abuse can be difficult subjects to talk about, but raising awareness is critical to changing existing attitudes and preventing further abuse.

Outreach Coordinator does this by providing:

Professional trainings for businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations

In-service presentations for healthcare providers, school professionals, law enforcement and mental health/substance abuse clinicians

Community presentations for educational, civic, community and religious groups

Public service campaigns including Domestic Violence Awareness Month every October and Sexual Assault Awareness Month every April

Tabling at community events, volunteer fairs and academic settings to provide education about domestic and sexual violence and Albemarle Hopeline services.

When the community at large is informed, this leads to having more victims and survivors to reach out to Hopeline to access multitude of services to begin and/or continue the healing from their exposure to Intimate Partner Violence, Thomas said.

Some of the ways Hopeline helps domestic violence victims are through its thrift store and Power to Improve, which provides career clothing. Items can be dropped off for the Thrift Store at 1755 Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Hopeline has served Pasquotank, Perquimans, Camden, Currituck, Chowan and Gate counties since 1981.

Hopeline’s main office is in Elizabeth City. It also has offices in Chowan County and Currituck. Its 24-hour crisis line can be reached by calling 252-338-3011.

Contact Nicole Bowman-Layton at nlayton@ncweeklies.com.