CLEVELAND — Stay at home orders are aimed at keeping Americans safe at home during the coronavirus crisis, but the mandates have created a dangerous situation for domestic violence victims.
"Am I concerned for people in these situations? Absolutely," said Melissa Graves, CEO Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center.
In the last two weeks of March, the beginning of Ohio's stay at home order, calls to their crisis helpline were up 40%. The time of day when victims are calling has changed too, and it's creating a disturbing picture.
"During non COVID-19, about 80% of our calls to the helpline would come in during the day when the abuser was at work," said Graves. "Now most of our calls are coming in the middle of the night with hushed tones while abusers are in another room sleeping."
A total of 1,073 domestic violence calls for service came into the City of Cleveland in the past 30 days, according to the US Attorney's Office.
"There is an uptick year to year," said Justin Herdman, US Attorney Northern District of Ohio. "The more concerning part isn't just what we're seeing in the numbers but the reality of what domestic violence victims would be dealing with in this pandemic," said Herdman.
Laura Cowen is the domestic violence advocate for CMHA. She is on a mission to help victims, Cowen is a domestic violence survivor.
"They're stuck inside with their abuser, that's when it escalates, arguments occur, everyone is tense," she explained.
"There is stress and anxiety, financial insecurity, the loss of control," added Graves
Those convicted of domestic violence or those subject to an order of protection cannot have a gun according to federal law. Cracking down on those who have a gun illegally is a top priority for Herdman.
"We know a firearm in those situations is 500% more likely to be used in a homicide," said Herdman.
If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation call, text or email Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center at 216-391-HELP(4357).