“PEOPLE ARE OUT of work, they’re close together all day long, they have more time on their hands, they’re drinking more, and they’re taking out their anger and frustration on others.”
The words of Beth Casady, the executive director of the Women’s Center in Marquette, warning us that domestic abuse will likely be on the rise in the weeks ahead during the coronavirus outbreak.
Fortunately, according to the Marquette Police, there’s been no local surge in domestic violence calls so far.
But nationwide and worldwide, a different story.
The United Nations Secretary-General reports a sharp increase in domestic violence including…
France where incidents have surged
South Africa where 90,000 incidents of violence against women were reported the first week of the shutdown
Lebanon where calls to domestic abuse hotlines have doubled
Malaysia where calls have also doubled
Australia where online searches for help have surged 75%
Turkey where the killing of women has increased sharply since the stay-at-home order there on March 11
And the United States where 18 of 22 law enforcement agencies contacted by NBC reported a rise in domestic violence calls last month.
Katie Ray-Jones, the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, reports that in one recent three week period, more than 2000 callers contacting the hotline cited the shutdown and stay-at-home orders as exacerbating the problem.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of survivors reaching out who are concerned with COVID-19 and how their abusive partner is leveraging COVID-19 to further isolate, coerce or increase fear in the relationship,” says Ray-Jones.
That’s precisely the message that Casady, here in Marquette, is trying to get out.
“This is a time we should be reaching out to people who we know are in an abusive situation,” she says, “and ask them if there’s anything we can do to help. The abuser controls them and sometimes won’t even let them leave the house to get groceries or talk to friends.”
Help for them might amount to buying them groceries or cleaning supplies or simply talking to them, although even phone calls can be risky because frequently, the abuser controls the phones in the home.
For the victims, Casady has this advice: Call 911 if you need help immediately. Call a friend or family member, if possible, to talk. Or call the Women’s Center Support Line at 800 455 6611, 24 hours a day, for counsel on how to deal with your situation, and possibly, how to escape it.
Harbor House, the emergency shelter for the Women’s Center, does have openings at this point, although Casady says, because of the COVD-19 outbreak, they are taking in fewer victims and they’re spacing them farther apart.