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Stay-at-home rules may affect domestic abuse survivors

How are COVID-19 stay-at-home rules affecting domestic abuse
Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 23:30:55-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Isolation during the coronavirus pandemic is a concern for those in violent situations at home.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that abusers are using COVID-19 as a tool to exert control over their victims.

“The hotline's call, chat and text volume remains in the average of 1,800 to 2,000 per day range," said Katie Ray-Jones, the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.org. "However, 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."

Ray-Jones said 3,829 survivors who contacted the hotline from March 16 to April 20 cited COVID-19 as a condition of their experience.

Erika Reyna-Brodhag is the Prevention and Education Manager with The Purple Door here in the Coastal Bend.

"With COVID-19 measures, stay-at-home orders, social distancing -- if a survivor is still living with that abuser, then that could put them at heightened risk," she said. "One thing I know about abusive behavior, or those who use abuse, is when things are out of control within their everyday life, they tend to try to make up for it by controlling what they believe they can control. And so this creates another safety risk for that survivor.”

The Corpus Christi Police Department said there has been an uptick in family-violence calls. They saw a 13 percent increase in aggravated-assault calls, and a 30 percent increase in simple-assault calls for the month of March, compared to the average over the last five years.

Meanwhile, Reyna-Brodhag said The Purple Door hasn't seen an influx of calls.

"That is concerning, considering we know domestic violence is happening -- very heightened -- with COVID-19 measures in place," she said. "We have survivors who may not feel safe enough to come forward, may not have the privacy to come forward. We would want to encourage a survivor: Do what's safe for you. Every survivor knows their own unique position in regards to safety."

The Purple Door is considered an essential service, and continues to operate at full capacity.

it has an emergency shelter, virtual sessions and a 24-hour hotline available.

The hotline is not just for primary victims, but also secondary victims who may need to process with an advocate, case manager or even a counselor.

"We continue to offer our services," Reyna-Broadhag said. "Free (and) confidential to all those who are experiencing domestic violence (and) sexual assault within our 12 counties."

For more information on those services and resources click here.