CLARION - There may be fewer cases of domestic violence in Clarion County this year but the cases that have been reported are more dangerous.
"In the last month we have seen a lot of domestic abuse orders," said legal advocate Linda Trojek. "I personally have done four orders in the last five days and I am not the only one working on the abuse orders.
"These are brand new protection orders and each one of them involved criminal charges. The general public doesn't think this happens in our little rural county but it does."
Shelter advocate Laurie Snyder added, "Normally most of the abuse we see is hitting and punching but now we are seeing more guns and knives.
"We have seen those numbers go up quite a bit. We track what kinds of weapons are used. While our overall numbers may be down the violence we are seeing is getting worse."
One of the reasons for the trend may be traced to the COVID pandemic.
"Our count is down this year but we attribute that to the fact that people are out of work due to the shut down and the victims are not able to flee their abusers like they normally would," said Bridge House manager Angela Alcorn. "Usually the victims get relief when the abusers are at work but with them not working they just can't get away."
The Bridge House program is a transitionalhousing program for women and/or their minor children for up to one year.
The Clarion County Board of Commissioners has proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The proclamation said one out of every three women and one out of every four men report they have been physically abused by an intimate partner or family member at some point in their lives and that 76 men, women and children in Clarion County requested services for domestic violence between July of 2020 to October of 2020.
In one year alone, 19 Clarion County women and seven children sought emergency domestic violence shelter for 433 nights.
"About 50 percent of the men who frequently assault their wives also frequently abuse their children, and one in four girls between 14 and 17 are involved in an abusive relationship," stated the proclamation.
The commissioners "urged all citizens to actively participate in programs sponsored by SAFE to work toward the elimination of institutional violence against women."
SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) offers free and confidential domestic violence services including: emergency shelter, options counseling, advocacy and accompaniment, community education, empowerment groups, and bridge housing program.
SAFE also offers the Clarion County community a wide variety of presentations developed to inform the public about the issues of domestic violence.
Programs range from school programs, outreach events, community awareness, support groups for children, medical personnel to programs at the workplace.
If you are interested in scheduling a training, please call SAFE at 814-226-8481.