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VERIFY: Domestic violence victims can leave, get protection order during stay-at-home rule

During North Carolina's stay-at-home order, domestic violence victims can leave their homes to seek both legal help and counseling.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Staying at home should not mean staying in harm's way, and that is the message family justice advocates want to send to domestic violence victims during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Misinformation about North Carolina's stay-at-home order, coupled by more-than-usual family togetherness, might be leaving our state's most vulnerable people in increasingly abusive situations. 

VERIFY INQUIRY

Does the stay-at-home order permit domestic violence victims to seek help?

VERIFY SOURCE

Jessica Culver, J.D. - Family Attorney - Dummit Fradin 

VERIFY EXPLANATION

Greensboro-based Dummit Fradin law firm posed the question on Facebook, in light of the stay-at-home order -- "If I'm a victim of domestic violence, am I allowed to leave my home?"

Culver said this situation is so unprecedented, the state's domestic violence statute (Chapter 50B) does not even address it. But, the NC stay-at-home-order (section 3.i) explains the answer is yes.

Credit: Office of Governor Roy Cooper

"In fact, the executive order, itself, urges those individuals who are in an unsafe situation to seek alternative housing. This includes victims of domestic violence," Culver explained. 

Can someone get a protection order during the stay-at-home order, if courts are closed?

Culver said, "Yes, it is true the court system is generally shut down right now for the safety of the public, however, they're still open for emergency matters such as seeking a domestic violence protective order or emergency child custody."

Can both a victim and perpetrator receive counseling services during the stay-at-home order?

"Yes, counseling is considered an essential service, so certain community crisis resources remain open or are offering teletherapy."

Is it true, overall, domestic violence cases have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic?

"Times of crisis typically escalate domestic violence, and this is no exception. Mandatory lockdowns and quarantines are likely to present new challenges for domestic violence victims," she said.

WFMY News 2 reached out to the National Domestic Hotline for data on Coronavirus-related help calls and, at last check, had not heard back.

The National Domestic Violence hotline is open 24/7: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The website also has a live chat option.

Most Triad-area family services centers and the Children's Law Center of Central NC are still operating.

VERIFY CONCLUSION

Even with the stay-at-home order in place in North Carolina, domestic violence victims can leave their homes to seek both legal help and counseling.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit it to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus

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