Domestic violence incidents spiked during the early part of the pandemic shutdown around the globe.
The reasons are well-documented: lockdowns are keeping survivors and their abusers in closer quarters, courts have slowed operations and so protective orders can be delayed, and the stress of the pandemic – unemployment, kids at home -- can heighten an already-tense environment.
France, which has one of the highest rates of murder linked to domestic violence in Western Europe, according to the BBC, just passed a law allowing doctors to break patient confidentiality if they believe a life is "in immediate danger". The new law also increases prison sentences for abusers whose actions lead a victim to attempt or commit suicide.
In the Cape Fear region, WHQR’s Rachel Keith has reported on the rise of domestic violence incidents amid the pandemic. Calls for assistance were up more than 100% from mid-March to the end of May – as compared to last year. Law enforcement officials tell WHQR that in 2019 during that same timeframe – March to May – there were seven domestic violence protective order violations. This year during that period – there were 27.
But there’s a new trend that is causing concern. The Raleigh News and Observer reported in May that the number of people seeking help is dropping off. The New York Times reports a similar trend. The reason, which is probably not a positive sign, say survivor advocates, is that victims could be having a harder time finding chances to reach out for help. And they could be losing hope.
Liz Herron, Director, Family Justice Center of the Durham Crisis Response Center
"Marie": Domestic Violence Survivor
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
Durham Crisis Response Center: 919-403-6562 (English), 919-519-3735 (Español)
24-hour crisis hotline for Hope Harbor Home: 910-754-5726