Covid-19 stresses lead to spike in domestic violence calls

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Updated: Mar. 27, 2020 at 8:38 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) -In the middle of quarantining during the Covid-19 outbreak, East Texas advocates say they are seeing an increase in domestic violence-related calls.

Those who work with domestic violence survivors on a daily basis say isolation contributes to prolong domestic abuse.

Glenna Harkness, Program Director, Family Crisis Center of East Texas in Lufkin, tells KLTV, “They’re at risk right now and that is an increase risk when people are quarantined together in their homes or they’re in lock down.”

Harkness is the Program Director at the Family Crisis Center of East Texas in Lufkin. A nonprofit that works to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.

Right now, the calls to the center’s 24-hour hotline have increased by 20 percent this week according to Harkness.

“It’s not just physical abuse it’s emotional, it’s psychological and when people are confined in spaces unfortunately it increases during that time,” explains Harkness.

With people social distancing in hopes of mitigating this outbreak, professionals at the East Texas Crisis Center in Tyler are concerned after reporting a 50 percent spike in hotline calls this week.

“Physical violence that's it, that's why they're calling, and they've got to get out of it,” says, Lana Peacock, Executive Director, East Texas Crisis Center. The nonprofit has an emergency shelter available, 15 rooms, 60 bed facility, as they provide a safe place for survivors to turn to.

"Right now, we have to tell them if they come into our emergency shelter they will be quarantined. They will not be able to leave and go to an outside job,” explains Peacock.

Both advocates say job loss and stress caused by the global pandemic, is contributing to the increase in abuse calls. “Being worried about not being able to pay the bills, I mean just everything escalates. So, it not only puts the adults in harm’s way but the children as well,” adds Peacock.

With face to face counseling sessions being forced to shutter in both Tyler and Lufkin, professionals are still available to provide strategies during these uncertain times.

“They can talk to someone who can really number one understand exactly what they’re going through, be able to give them really good advice, a lot of times help them increase their options,” says Peacock.

Both the Tyler and Lufkin’s emergency shelter still have room to house victims of domestic violence.

Advocates say if you are looking to file a restraining order, you still can do so.

If you are in need of help you can call the 24-hour East Texas Crisis Center's hotline phone number at 903-595-5591

The Lufkin Family Crisis Center of East Texas hotline is also available at 936-552-9256

Both agencies need donations as they help maintain some important services, such as its shelter for domestic violence victims and their children,

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