PCOM and Serenity House Discuss Domestic Violence and COVID-19
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Serenity House Partners with PCOM to Discuss COVID-19 Effects

May 7, 2020

Headshot photograph of Haley Clark, executive director of Colquit County Serenity House domestic violence shelterHaley Clark, executive director of Colquitt County Serenity House, a domestic violence shelter, recently spoke about the challenges that the organization is facing during COVID-19 in a webinar series hosted by Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) Office of Diversity and Community Relations.

Faculty, staff and students from campuses in Philadelphia, Suwanee and Moultrie were invited to attend the online presentation to discuss the impact of stay at home orders on domestic violence during COVID-19. The webinar also featured Alina Torres-Zickler, Equity and Title IX Coordinator and was facilitated by Valerie Cadet, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, Immunology, and Forensic Medicine at PCOM Georgia.

As a safe shelter for victims of family violence, Clark said Serenity House has seen an increase in domestic violence and child abuse.

“This pandemic is adding a lot of stressors to a home that is already (susceptible) to traumatic and dangerous environments,” Clark said. “These stressors increase what we see in abuse, but they’re being underreported because in rural areas we don’t have the means for people to escape during times like this.

She added, “We’re seeing a lot of barriers in which people are having problems getting out of abusive situations. We don’t have public transportation, and we’re very limited in helping people get out of situations because we don’t have certain things that we need. People are having to lay low until this pandemic eases up. That’s when a heavy flow of victims will come in.”

While shelter in place and social distancing are still being practiced, Clark says Serenity House is doing its best to adapt to changes and remain available.

“We have had to change our ways of educating the community and providing resources,” she said. “We’re having to do a lot of online educational presentations. We’re doing the best we can in the times that we’re living in to get an online presence, but a lot of people don’t have internet access and computers, so they don’t have the resources to connect with us online.”

Clark adds that shelters have had to decrease their capacity levels to maintain social distancing. Serenity House has reduced the number of people it can take in and is partnering with local hotels to offset those capacity limits.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and follow guidelines,” Clark said. “It’s not possible for us to shut our doors.”

Something to Talk About is a series hosted by PCOM Office of Diversity and Community Relations to celebrate Diversity Month. Over 150 attendees participated in the conversation hosted by the Office of Diversity and Community Partnerships, which is focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities.

View the recording of this webinar along with other online presentations offered by the Office of Diversity and Community Relations.

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About PCOM South Georgia

In 2019, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied 125-year history, extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia. An additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia, PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution that trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the region. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 229-668-3110.

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