City police say domestic violence calls on the rise amidst pandemic

City police say domestic violence calls on the rise amidst pandemic

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a press conference Thursday, the Richmond Police Chief announced that for nearly three weeks crime has been down in the city, attributing the drop in incidents to people abiding by the governor’s statewide stay-at-home mandates.

“When you look at calls for service across the city they are down and certainly our social distancing calls for the city are significantly down over the past three weeks,” Richmond Police Chief Will Smith said. “Further, when we look at our crime we have finally seen a significant reduction in crime almost three weeks in a row now.”

Despite praising the city’s efforts of maintaining social distancing, instances of domestic violence have gone up.

“We have seen some increases in terms of domestic assault. Some of those have been minor simple assaults and there have been some domestic aggravated assaults,” Smith said.

That uptick in domestic violence, compounded by the fact that according to the Richmond YWCA Hotline calls are down about 50% from February to the end of March.

The organization believes that fewer people have the ability to call for help and that safety planning, diffusing situations, leaving violent homes with your children is hard because survivors of abuse are likely home with the ones causing the stress or abuse.

The YWCA says sexual assault and domestic violence are about control, humiliation and the power to harm someone and that while social isolation is typically a red flag when building healthy relationships, during this pandemic, it can be tougher to indicate when this occurs so abusers can be emboldened by additional barriers a survivor has.

For many women and children, it takes tremendous courage to survive each night at their own homes during this pandemic, while the rest of the world find a sanctuary in the safety of their homes. YWCA Richmond is actively helping them to make safety plans, educate them with options and empower them to make courageous decisions, as we have been since 1887. Please consider a donation to help us continue our mission. If anyone needs help, please call our 24/7 crisis hotline, 804-612-6126. #domesticviolence #saam2020

Posted by YWCA Richmond on Saturday, April 18, 2020

“It’s likely because survivors don’t have space or the time to reach out and aren’t safe,” said Rupa Murthy with the Richmond YWCA. “When in isolation, survivors don’t have a safe space to make the call to be able to get the help they need.”

According to the YWCA, eight out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. Then add that 40 percent of programs have experienced an increased demand for services since the onset of COVID-19 both in terms of new requests and more dire and complicated requests from current clients.

Murthy says if you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence to reach out to the groups like the YWCA to get them the help they may not be able to get themselves right now.

“We have our shelter available, we have all our safety protocols in place including sanitation and masks, and daily needs for survivors who are in shelters," Murthy said.

Murthy says YWCA is also utilizing telehealth which has become more HIPAA compliant during the pandemic so survivors who are reaching out can be assured of their privacy.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, you can advocate for the YWCA is urging you to call the 24/7 hotline at 806-612-6126.

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