Digital Exclusive: Going ‘Beyond Violence’ amid COVID-19

Digital Exclusive

BERWICK, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Coronavirus restrictions have been an absolute nightmare for many; especially those who have been the victims of domestic abuse. One women’s shelter in Berwick has taken the shutdown time to quietly upgrade.

“Domestic abuse is real and it’s happening today and before the pandemic. It’s happening,” Samantha Scoblink, marketing, development coordinator for Beyond Violence, Inc. said.

It’s been a longtime coming for Beyond Violence, which started their journey from Walnut Street to West 11th almost two years ago.

“We bought the building back in August of 2018. We were blessed with the opportunity to be able to purchase this building. We had outgrown our old location ten-fold long before the pandemic became news,” executive director Jennifer Campbell said.

Their need outgrew their former space well before 2020. And the move didn’t come without hitting a few snags.

“I thought it would be real quick to build a couple of bedrooms and move in. To my surprise I never realized all the HVAC or sprinkler system issues and potential hiccups along the way with borough codes and zoning. So it took us a little while to get down here,” Campbell said.

Small groups of volunteers and staff using what would be isolation — for improvement.

“We only had ourselves to help so power for the women. It took a while for us to get moved and everything but we chipped away at it a little at a time until we got where we are. We’re really happy, proud and excited that we got to move,” Scoblink said.

The new building gives the nonprofit three more bedrooms to house up to 12 families and they’ve even been able to upgrade security.

“This building is locked 24/7 so we’re not relying on somebody to remember to lock the door as we were more in a house setup before. It’s key fob entry. We have a security camera system inside the building, in common areas, as well as all three sides outside the building,” Campbell said.

Domestic abuse has been hard to report and escape during lock down. Campbell has been with Beyond Violence since 2004 and has seen trends leading up to lock down.

“I don’t necessarily think domestic violence is on the rise. I think, with the #nomore movement, there’s just people taking a stand and not putting up with that kind of treatment,” Campbell said.

While many are fighting back, others are still at the mercy of their situations and time is running out.

“Right now there’s protections out there for renters where landlords can’t evict them so a lot of people are staying with friends, using PFA’s to remove their abuser from the home and staying in the home, themselves. Once that restriction is lifted and landlords are able to evict? We fear that we are going to be inundated with shelter residents because they will have nowhere else to go,” Campbell said.

The move and improvements give hope to those in need of these services.

“We’ve been able to maintain services and stay open through all of this,” Campbell said.

Beyond Violence says in helping victims, it’s important to get a safe roof overhead and get families back into society, on the right foot.

“We really work hard on that and we have a really great rate where they get out on their own and we don’t see them back in the shelter,” Campbell said.

For those still in need, there’s help.

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