Twenty-five years of helping people leave abusive situations could not have prepared CHANA for the isolating danger of quarantine. This coming week, the community will be able to catch a glimpse of, not only how important CHANA has been over the past few decades, but why the organization is even more needed now.
In honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, CHANA, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, will premiere a 30-minute storytelling video, “Voices: Stories of Survival,” at 7 p.m on Oct. 21. Those interested can register at chanabaltimore.org/events/voicesofchana.
CHANA’s mission began in 1995 when a group of advocates at The Associated decided to respond to domestic abuse in the community. While the organization originally focused on local Jewish women and their children, it expanded in 2009 to help child victims, adult survivors, sexual abuse victims and male victims. Then, in 2013, it grew even more to end and prevent elder abuse. The organization accomplishes these goals through counseling, intervention, legal advocacy, shelter, support groups and education. It also operates a live chat from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday at 410-234-0030, which is completely confidential and free.
This coming video premiere is the second annual event of its kind. CHANA has spent the last two months preparing for this year’s “Voices” video. It will showcase the pandemic’s effects on domestic violence cases.
“It’s stories of survival,” CHANA Executive Director Lauren Shaivitz said. “It’s going to highlight stories of our clients from the front lines of what they’re experiencing during the pandemic. We call it a crisis within a crisis.”
Viewers will learn how the Baltimore Jewish community has seen a huge spike in domestic violence, according to Shaivitz.
“There is a huge increase in danger for victims in general, just like every community is facing across the globe,” she said. “It’s going to be a brief, powerful message in under a half-hour to get a firsthand view of what’s happening.”
Participants will learn how the pandemic has impacted domestic abuse. For example, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported a growing number of callers who say abusers are using COVID-19 to further manipulate and isolate them. To counter these challenges, CHANA has reevaluated its safety planning and tactics coordination, while working with each survivor to personalize their options and help them make safe choices.
“Unfortunately while everyone is at home all the time, CHANA has seen an uptick in people who need our services,” CHANA Operations Manager Dayna Leder told the JT a few months ago, earlier on in the pandemic. “This is because there is more opportunity for violence, and less opportunity for deescalation.”