Domestic violence crisis calls are up

Missions Inc.Featured, In the News

CCX media logo

By Sonya Goins, CCX Media

Domestic abuse calls for help are on the rise in Minnesota during the COVID-19 pandemic. Day One, A Minnesota crisis hotline, is seeing a jump in calls and text messages. On Monday, they had 145 calls. Colleen Schmitt is director of programs for Cornerstone, the nonprofit that manages the hotline. She says usually, they have 75 requests during that same time.

Domestic abusers use isolation as a weapon

Elsa Swenson is with Home Free, a shelter and advocacy group that’s part of Plymouth-based Missions Inc. Programs. She says domestic abuse is about power and control. She says many abusers use isolation as a weapon, which makes matters even worse since we’re all at home now.

“It’s kind of making a pressure cooker for these of situations,” said Swenson.

She’s worried people aren’t calling for help and says her group has to use different methods to assist victims during this time.

“We have to be more creative about how do we function within that relationship and a pandemic? And how does that change how we safely plan? How do people move forward and take the next steps?” says Swenson.

Brooklyn Park police detective Shane Husarik handles about 250-300 domestic abuse cases per year. However, that’s not the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“March 15th, which is when the stay-at-home went into effect, until April 12th, our simple assaults, domestic violence fear cases, have gone down about 28 percent,” said Husarik.

He credits community engagement groups with helping to connect with people who might be in danger during this challenging time.

Both advocates recommend people check in on family and friends who might be at risk. Let them know that you care and are available to help if needed.

Services are still available during the stay-at-home order to help people in a violent situation. Domestic violence shelters are also open.

Want to know more? Watch this in-depth special report from CCX News. It also includes a few resources for you to get help.