Domestic violence reports spike during pandemic

Domestic violence reports spike during pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s an alarming trend here in Memphis and in other cities across the country. Police are seeing more aggravated assaults because of domestic violence.

In May, June, and July, Memphis police reported double-digit percentage increases in domestic violence aggravated assaults. The YWCA of Greater Memphis has not seen an increase in people at its domestic violence shelter which leaders find very alarming.

After a slight decrease the first three months of the year, domestic violence aggravated assaults in Memphis are rising. At their highest, numbers rose nearly 30 percent in May compared to last year.

“It’s the most serious domestic violence incidents that are going up,” Director of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission Bill Gibbons said.

The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission got the latest numbers of Memphis police. Gibbons said this is a trend across the country, and one being connected to the pandemic.

“[People’s] daily routines are being upset, they’re stress levels are up. In many cases they’ve lost their jobs,” Gibbons said.

“It’s very concerning to me,” Executive Director of the YWCA of Greater Memphis Marquiepta Odom said.

Odom sees the reports of increased domestic violence, but she said there isn’t an increase of people seeking help from the organization’s shelter. She too believes that is correlated to the pandemic.

“I think there’s a stigma out there that if [domestic violence victims] come to the shelter, they’ll end up with COVID-19,” Odom said.

Odom said there was an increase in visitors to the shelter after the city’s safer at home order ended in May– the same month the city saw the highest rise in domestic violence aggravated assaults, but the lack of visitors now is alarming to her.

“I think they’re going back [to the abusers] or staying in that situation,” Odom said.

Odom said the shelter has not decreased the number of beds at the shelter since the start of the pandemic, but visitors are screened, and social distancing is put in place.

If you need help and are in a situation of domestic violence, call the YWCA’s 24/7 hotline at 1-901-725-4277

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