Police, advocates report domestic violence on the rise during coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 11:50 PM EDT
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GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (FOX19) - At least one Tri-State police department is seeing a significant increase in domestic calls during the coronavirus pandemic, and advocates fear domestic violence survivors may have trouble getting away from their abusers.

Advocates are calling it an epidemic during a pandemic. They are urging communities around the world to make sure resources are readily available for survivors.

“China, Spain, France have documented increased domestic violence cases during this pandemic," Kristin Shrimplin, the CEO of Women Helping Women, said.

The more than 70 adults and children who have been staying in the YWCA of Cincinnati’s shelters have had to move to hotels because of the outbreak. Leaders of the non-profit say they are now trying to raise $30,000 to cover the cost.

In Goshen Township, police said they have seen an increase in domestic incidents over the past two weeks compared to the same dates last year. They reported two incidents last year and 16 this year during the same two-week time frame.

“People are experiencing extreme stress, economic anxiety, increased anxiety, fear and loss of control," Barbara Perez, the CEO of YWCA Cincinnati, said. "All of these factors are causing domestic violence to skyrocket.”

Shrimplin said Women Helping Women saw a 30 percent increase in calls to their hotline in early March, but during the first week of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, it went down 10 percent.

“That’s where we’re very concerned," Shrimplin said. "Abusers are in the home, so the ability to even make a hotline call under stay-at-home orders looks completely different, to get the privacy, to get the time.”

In response, Shrimplin says they are launching a text chat next week to give survivors another way to get help 24/7.

Advocates worry the situation will get worse before it gets better.

“Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, I anticipate we’re going to see almost like a pent up demand of now survivors coming forward," Shrimplin said.

Goshen Township Police have not released any more details about the domestic incidents included in their statistics.

Survivors of domestic violence can get help from Women Helping Women and/or the YWCA.

Women Helping Women has a 24 hour hotline - 513-381-5610.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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