CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated both sexual violence and racial disparities in how survivors access help, advocates told U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster on Wednesday.
Kuster, D-N.H., leads the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, which hosted an online discussion for leaders from within the domestic and sexual violence fields.
“Sexual violence thrives in secrecy,” said Monika Johnson Hostler, president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “Perpetrators are taking advantage of lowered guards and visibility at this time with victims who are disconnected from their regular activities and their support networks, such as their work, their places of worship and their community groups.”
Johnson Hosler also serves as the director of a coalition against sexual violence in North Carolina, where 60% of the state’s crisis centers have experienced an increase in demand for services in the last three months, she said. Similarly, Kuster said one crisis center in New Hampshire has reported a 270% increase in visitors to its website since March.
“COVID-19 has presented new sets of challenges, from survivors who are literally trapped in quarantine in their home with their abuser, to those who have to put up with abuse and harassment from managers because quitting their jobs and finding a new one now seems more daunting than ever,” she said. “This summer has also seen a long overdue reckoning about racial justice and equality in our country. ... With that in mind, it’s also essential that we examine racial disparities in access to care and support survivors need.”
Women of color are on the front lines of both COVID-19 and sexual assault, because they often work essential service sector jobs that leave them vulnerable to both, said Condencia Brade, Executive Director of the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault.
She wants Congress to allocate $40 million for communities of color organizations that understand the impact of sexual assault on people of color and the nuances of healing strategies. Many of those organizations have been left out of relief efforts so far because money has gone to existing grant recipients, she said.
“We need Congress to hear us, see us and support us,” she said.
In other coronavirus-related developments:
State health officials announced two additional coronavirus deaths Wednesday, raising the state’s total to 411 people. The most recent deaths are one woman and one man, both age 60 or older, in Hillsborough County. The death toll in long-term care facilities increased to 337 (82% of all cases).
Officials also announced 17 new positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 6,513 with 157,397 test results completed. The 17 new cases include two people under age 18 and the rest are adults with 59% female and 41% male. They reside in Rockingham (5), Belknap (1), and Strafford (1) counties, and in the cities of Manchester (9) and Nashua (1).
The total number of hospitalizations remains 690 (about 11% of all cases) with 22 people currently hospitalized. The state reported 5,710 people are confirmed as recovered (about 88% of all cases).
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.
Fisher Cats funding
Faced with an empty stadium for the summer, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are seeking $1 million to pay their bills during the coronavirus pandemic.
The minor league baseball team is facing a $5.5 million loss in revenue, officials told lawmakers advising the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery. It leases the stadium from the city of Manchester, which would face its own budget difficulties if payments aren’t made, said Mayor Joyce Craig.
“They’ve been a very significant player in the city of Manchester’s economic viability,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester.
The team did receive $350,000 in federal funding — the maximum amount available — from the state’s Main Street relief fund. It also has applied for funding from a General Assistance and Preservation Fund for businesses and nonprofits that haven’t been able to otherwise get support. The deadline for those applications is Aug. 4.
So far, the state has allocated $1 billion of the $1.25 billion in received in federal coronavirus relief aid.