Reports of Domestic Abuse Up During COVID-19 Pandemic
Sheltering in place isn't safe if there is abuse in the home.
The order, which requires people to only leave home for essential needs, has been crucial to flattening the curve. But not everyone is safer at home, and concerns about increasing domestic abuse are high.
Since the order started about a month ago, they’ve seen an increase in calls from police and referrals, as well as growing anxiety from people in abusive situations and those who have left domestic violence situations.
“Some of our clients are choosing to stay because they see no path forward out of the violence for themselves, they’re seeking, like all of us, comfort of the familiar,” she said.
Definitely violence continues to be happening at a high rate and our fear is that it will continue to escalate“Definitely violence continues to be happening at a high rate and our fear is that it will continue to escalate,” she continued.
And for those who have already left abusive situations, they’ve been robbed of the support groups they’ve built to help them through difficult situations.
Both Fischer and Pitre are clear that support services are open, and people can reach them by text, calls and email, or by getting a message to family and friends to pass along to support services.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak there were opportunities to get respite or breaks from abusive situations and be around other people, whether through work, church or community activities, Pitre said.
But the safer-at-home order makes it impossible for many to have that outside connection and for support groups to meet.
“Abuse thrives in isolation and in silence,” Fischer said. “It just gives up so much more power and so much more control to the abuser. And that’s what we’re really seeing here right now.”
But Fischer and Pitre want people to know that they are not alone.
“We’re encouraging people to know … that it’s not their fault and to seek sanctuary with people they know, maybe a family member or friend and actually go to shelter if they feel like the violence is escalating,” Pitre said.
If you know someone who may be struggling with an abusive situation, Fischer said to reach out in as many ways as you can to provide support, and let them know there are services still available and this situation won’t last forever.
“This is a short term,” she said. “There is a path to be able to get out in the future … try to remain as safe as they can, and if it comes to a situation where they really do feel unsafe, then giving them an option of someplace to go to be able to get out if they need to.”
Listen to the WPR report here.
With ‘Safer-At-Home’ Comes Growing Concern For Domestic Abuse was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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