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Domestic violence shelters see drastic increase in calls, need for help

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 11:27 PM EDT
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Domestic violence shelters are helping more people than ever before.
Domestic violence shelters are helping more people than ever before.(WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Nationwide domestic violence shelters and hotlines have seen an increase in the number of victims and survivors they have helped since the pandemic started. The increase in the need for support has spread across the country, including in Kentucky and Indiana.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, from March 16 to May 16, 2020, the hotline’s contact volume increased by 9%. In the first two months of the pandemic, they had a total of more than 62,000 contacts with victims and survivors of domestic violence.

The Center for Women and Families in Louisville has seen a massive increase in the number of calls they receive for support, the director of crisis response, Reverend Dr. Caitlin Simpson, said. The agency provides specific resources to people who are going through intimate partner violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and to those who are survivors.

In the first few months of the pandemic, during the shutdown and initial quarantines, Simpson said they noticed the intensity of violence increased along with the call volumes the agency received.

“People were trapped at home with their perpetrator or perpetrators. The safe places where they used to make contact with us like work or going to church, those were off-limits,” Simpson said. “There was no reprieve. There was no break, no cool down time. So some of the injuries we’ve seen, some of the stories we’ve heard, are exponentially more difficult than anything that we’ve experienced as an agency.”

The Center for Women and Families never closed its doors during the pandemic. It serves seven Kentucky counties, including Bullitt, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Trimble counties, and two southern Indiana counties, including Clark and Floyd counties.

Between those nine counties, the shelter received 60,000 calls in 2020, Simpson said. Though not all of them were about an immediate crisis, all pf the callers were looking for support. That number is compared to 2019 when the agency received about 29,000 calls.

“Our numbers in 2021, we’re already on the path to surpass what we received in 2020,” Simpson said.

From January to April of 2021, she said the Center for Women and Families has received over 30,000 calls.

“Sometimes people say, ’Thirty-thousand calls? That’s a lot.’ But we say that’s 30,000 people,” Simpson said. “That’s someone I know, I love, you know, you love. So, we’re helping people. So we’ll ask the community for as long as we need to so we can continue to help people.”

The Center for Women and Families has advocates who go to hospitals and help in the court system. Simpson said they could use more help through monetary donations or through volunteering.

“We need volunteers,” Simpson said. “We need people who are in a place where they can do the work when staff can’t. We’re only as many people as we have so the more we have, the more we can serve ... When we can help people get to the other side, can get to a place of long-term sustained recovery and can live a life free from their perpetrator, there’s nothing sweeter than that.”

To donate or to learn how to can get involved, click here or call (502) 581-7200.

For those in need of help, call the Center for Women and Families toll-free 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1+(844) BE-SAFE-1.

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