The county has launched a new Family Violence Awareness and Prevention Campaign to focus on the available help for victims of such actions during the COVID-19 emergency.

“Our community is weathering an unprecedented pandemic. With that may come added stress and anxiety,” said Police Chief Marcus Jones during a video announcement. “This in turn is contributing to the potential victimization of some of our most vulnerable populations, including our elderly and our children.

“In our Special Victims Investigations Division, our Domestic Violence Unit, a group of detectives assigned to investigate the most serious cases of domestic abuse, has seen a 25 percent increase in case assignments, and many of these cases have involved knives and guns,” Jones continued.

At the same time, there’s been a decrease is reports of cases involving children and the elderly, because, Jones said, “many of those who may have been victimized, or may be victimized, aren’t being seen by the usual reporters, such as teachers and healthcare workers.”

The campaign includes stickers, cards, posters and yard signs that can be displayed and distributed at open retail stores and businesses, as well as graphics that can be used on social media.

In addition, stickers will be displayed on the plexiglass barriers at liquor stores and phone numbers where people can seek help will be printed on customer receipts, according to a press release.

The county’s Family Justice Center is open and providing services during the COVID-19 emergency, officials said. The FJC can be reached at 240.773.0444 or at [email protected] In addition, the county’s crisis center is open 24/7 and can be reached at 240.777.4000.

Organizations and businesses interested in helping with the campaign or sharing materials can email Smita Varia, the county’s domestic violence coordinating council program manager, at [email protected]

Graphic from Montgomery County website.

Mike Diegel