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KOKH: Unreported domestic abuse more common in age of COVID-19

By Mckenna Eubank
Published: August 30th, 2020

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Domestic violence is believed to be surging in Oklahoma homes as stress from the pandemic and issues surrounding it, continue to plague the state and the entire country. Advocates believe it’s happening behind closed doors.

According to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), victims often rely on the chance to have privacy in order to safely report their abuse.

As unemployment skyrocket and others work from home, the association said victims may not feel safe making the call.

“We have seen that there has been an increase in calls, domestic violence related calls to law enforcement,” Director of the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Program with the YWCA, “What we have seen is actually a decline in people reaching out for services through our agency and others.”

The change in pattern, may be an indication that when reports are finally made it’s, “more so of an emergency. There’s no other options available to me situation,” McDonald said.

She also explained the women they’re helping are more often coming from more severe circumstances, but now there’s a concern for victims who are suffering in silence.

McDonald said, “You might go to work and your co-workers might notice a bruise and ask what’s going on. We don’t have those outlets available to us right now and so the ones that are coming in are more of those emergent cases.”

Victims can call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 if they feel safe to do so.

According to Candida Manion, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, “Violence at home has an overall cost to society, and victims of domestic violence, including intimate partner abuse and child abuse are at a greater risk for injuries including death.”

Manion said victims should follow guidance from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which advises to find a place to retreat for safety in the event of violence while avoiding bathrooms and the kitchen.

Victims can call a trusted friend or family member and use a code word to indicate you need help.

Phone numbers for people and agencies should be memorized in case of an emergency.

Lastly, make sure you have easy access to cash, your personal identification, and important documents like health insurance cards and birth certificates for you and your children.

The YWCA also said victims can walk in to certain facilities or chat online with Palomar Family Justice Center.

McDonald said, “We have zoom available, we have text messaging available, anything that we can do to accommodate because we are trying to accommodate this need in our city.”

The YWCA tells Fox 25 they are also in need of volunteers to help meet the need for victims who come into the Oklahoma County Courthouse.