PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The same tools we use to protect ourselves from coronavirus are also, according to domestic violence experts, used by offenders.
“Isolation and social distancing are the very tools used by offenders use to keep someone trapped in a violent relationship,” said Jody Brophy, interim CEO at SafeSpace, a domestic violence shelter serving Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.
Need help getting out of a violent relationship? Call Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse in Palm Beach County at 1 (800) 355-8547 or SafeSapce for Treasure Coast counties at 1 (800) 500-1119.
Between March 6 and April 6, compared to the same time frame last year, domestic battery cases have increased 18 percent in Palm Beach County
In the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee counties, domestic violence cases have increased a whopping 79 percent during that same time frame.
Brophy has also noticed an increase in the need for help. “We have been seeing is an increase need in our outreach programs. We have had an uptick in our hotline calls for sure,” said Brophy.
However in Palm Beach County, hotline calls to Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, otherwise known as AVDA, have remained about the same.
RELATED: Domestic violence cases increase 79 percent in Treasure Coast counties during COVID-19 pandemic
“We are concerned that the reason [hotline calls] are not going up is because by being in the home with their perpetrator 24/7, [victims] are not necessarily able to access a way to call us,” said Jennifer Rey, the Program Services Director for AVDA.
For those seeking help, do not give up hope.
“Be creative,” said Brophy. “If you get one of the opportunities and find yourself in one of the few places that is actually open, such as a grocery store, try to find the time to get into the restroom and make a quick call.
“Reach out. We can start the conversation right then and there, and just begin that escape and the exit strategy plan.”