RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith held a roundtable discussion on domestic violence at Byrd Park Monday morning to address how to help survivors of domestic abuse, and how to keep more people from becoming victims.
Several groups took part in the discussion, including YWCA Richmond, Child Savers and VCU Project Empower. Survivors shared their stories.
According to the YWCA, calls for service have not only increased in volume during the pandemic, but also in severity. The agency said it saw 2,000 calls related to domestic violence last year, and more than 1,000 requests for emergency shelter.
Smith noted that he and the YWCA are working to form a task force to discuss the potential for a family justice center in the city. That center would provide services to victims of domestic abuse and their children, and, because of the multi-agency partnership, it would reduce the number of times a victim has to share their story.
Devette Hayes, a victim of domestic abuse, shared her story of being attacked by an ex-boyfriend with a machete in 2007.
She said Richmond’s Victim Services Program helped her through the recovery process.
"The services now versus 2007 have increased, and I'm really glad to see that more attention is being paid to domestic violence situations, adults and children alike," Hayes explained.
According to the CDC, one in five women and one in seven men experience some form of physical violence by a partner.
“I stand here today to tell you help is available regardless if your background," Smith noted. "The Richmond Police Department takes every report of domestic violence seriously, and we are committed to investigating incidents within our community and assisting those who may be experiencing this kind of conflict."
RPD is releasing a silent video on the agency’s YouTube and Facebook pages to show those struggling some of the resources available to them.
There’s also a 24/7 hotline available for anyone who is dealing with domestic abuse. That number is 1-800-838-8238.
Additionally, Richmond metro residents can call the EmpowerNet Hotline at 804-612-6126 for assistance.