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Domestic Violence Advocates Anticipate Spike In Need For Help

The Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center is keeping its helpline open and continuing advocacy and therapy work for clients during coronavirus crisis. [aaron_anderer / Creative Commons]
photo of police lights

Domestic violence advocates are concerned they will see an increase in abuse as people are forced to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland is keeping its helpline and shelter open. Advocates are still at work in Cuyahoga County municipal courts and therapists are meeting remotely with clients.

According to Chief Executive Officer Melissa Graves, social isolation, economic uncertainty and the lack of an office or school to go to daily make ideal circumstances for abuse.

“So before COVID, when people could go to work, they could go to school, they could get some respite outside of the house, and now everybody is stuck at home in that house together and it can be a very difficult situation for people who are in domestic abuse or child abuse situations,” Graves said.

Gov. Mike DeWine issued a stay at home order that went into effect Monday at 11:59 pm. Schools were ordered closed on March 12.

Though it will take some time to find out the full ripple effects of the coronavirus, studies have found increases in domestic violence and child abuse following natural disasters.

Between March 6 and March 22, Cleveland police reported about the same number of domestic violence calls as during the same period a year ago.

Overall arrests are down 21 percent.

“If you had any friends or family you were concerned about, be checking in and have them know they're not isolated,” Graves said. “Just check in and see how folks are doing.”

If you are in need of assistance, the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center has a 24-hour helpline: (216) 391-HELP(4357). They also receive messages via text and email.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.