NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Nashville leaders are working to combat a different pandemic, one that is silently impacting 1 in 4 women and potentially thousands of children.

“Domestic violence is the pandemic that’s been going on for years and years,” said Allison Cantway, Assistant Director of Client Services for the Office of Family Safety.

Cantway says her agency saw an 8% increase in families experiencing interpersonal violence in 2020. That includes domestic violence, sexual assault, even child abuse.

“In 2020, the Office of Family Safety served over 4,000 survivors of interpersonal violence,” Cantway said. “Out of those 4,000 survivors, there were 3,000 children that lived in those same homes. So, we are seeing a huge number of families being impacted.”

Metro City Council approved a $5,000 grant to help OFS bring more resources and programs to Nashville.

“These are things that impact children when they are young and actually have a physical impact on their brain development. So, when kids have violence going on in their homes, their brain truly develops differently. They often experience what we call “toxic stress” which has adrenaline pumping through their bodies and really affects how well they do in school, mental health, and it affects their sense of felt safety,” said Cantway.

Camp Hope will begin in 2022 and will be a working partnership with Metro Nashville Police.