NJ nonprofits help people in quarantine flee abusive relationships

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — We're all feeling a little trapped during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for those quarantined with an abusive partner, that feeling is even more prevalent.

If the lockdown continues for six months, 31 million more gender-based violence cases can be expected, according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund. And for every three months that the lockdown continues, officials predict an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence.

“Inside, you're worrying about your safety, and then outside, you're worrying about your safety,” said Jessica, a South Jersey mother of two, who’s going by a different name to protect her identity. “Finally, I just reached out.”

Jessica is a physical and emotional abuse survivor. During the beginning stages of the pandemic, she and her kids were able to leave an abusive home, thanks, in part, from the Mount Holly-based nonprofit Forever Your Overwatch (FYO).

“ ‘Overwatch’ is a military term,” explained FYO founder Nicholas Luciano, who’s also a former Marine. “It's basically, you go ahead while we cover you. We make sure that you're safe going forward.”

With the pandemic, Luciano said they quickly noticed the need for food and supplies for families “fleeing a violent situation.”

“There's already economic insecurity there — loss of income, all the unknown,” he said.

To further assist with that unknown, FYO is getting some additional support from Moorestown-based organization Moore Unity via a COVID-19 T-shirt fundraiser. 

The organization is selling T-shirts that say “WE STAND TOGETHER 6 FEET APART.” The shirts are donations-based and must be ordered by May 15.

Proceeds go toward FYO to help people like Jessica.

“The fact that they want to help someone else that they don't know makes me feel good,” she said. “It gives me hope.