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Uptick in domestic violence cases during pandemic lockdown confirmed by report

Maddie Evans, of BD Catering in Syracuse, places warm meals into a bag to be delivered for domestic violence victims on Friday, March 12, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report confirms there has been an uptick in the number of cases of domestic violence while Americans were locked down over the spread of COVID-19. The report released by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice cites an 8.1% increase in domestic violence incidents in the US since the time stay-at-home orders took effect.

Co-author of that report, Erin Jemison, former director of public policy at the YWCA Utah, says domestic violence thrives while people are isolated, with the pandemic having all the elements that advocates fear the most, all coming at one time.

“This report serves to show, yep, there was more outreach. People were asking for help more. And that’s probably just so little of what was actually happening that we don’t even know yet,” according to Jemison.

Jemison says more good news came in the form of federal stimulus money that helped cover the costs of hotel rooms for safety and shelters, but that many crisis centers continue to struggle as they see an uptick in clients.

Despite re-openings of offices, restaurants and businesses, Kristen Floyd, executive director at Davis County’s Safe Harbor Crisis Center, says they have not seen anything slow down since a 50% increase in people needing services. 

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Last year, Safe Harbor Crisis Center helped roughly 2,400 people, prompting Floyd to seek out help with food.  She tapped a Syracuse catering company to bring meals and instituted a wellness program to help employees who were having a hard time coping with the crush in cases and clients.

“It’s not just about, ‘Hey, we’ve had an uptick of clients,’ but we’ve also been really challenged on how to serve that uptick in clients,” Floyd said.

The February report comes from work done and compiled by a group of judges, law enforcers, researchers and others that includes former U.S. attorneys general Alberto Gonzales and Loretta Lynch.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship there is help available here in Utah and nationwide.

  • YWCA’s Women in Jeopardy program: 801-537-8600
  • Utah statewide Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-897-LINK (5465) and
  • 24-hour Salt Lake victim advocate hotline: 801-580-7969
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

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