North Alabama Crisis Services sees rise in domestic violence calls amid pandemic

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Crisis Services of North Alabama says it has noticed a spike in domestic violence calls since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

The stay at home order is in place to slow the spread of coronavirus, but problems in the home are rising, says the group, which focuses on assisting families facing domestic violence.

CSNA Domestic Violence Response Coordinator Joleen Heckman said calls increased by 25 percent in March in comparison to the year before.

“That spike hit when people were starting to get laid off,” Heckman said.

Yalitza LaFontaine with crisis support group AshaKiran said that’s not all.

“There’s also a fear of COVID-19. So if I go into a shelter, if I leave my house and go into a shelter, I’m exposing myself,” said LaFontaine.

Advocates say they are seeing those numbers fluctuate because victims may not feel comfortable calling in because they’re at home longer with their abusers.

“Victims of domestic violence, child abuse victims, their access to the outside world is their opportunity to seek help,” said LaFontaine.

Police are receiving similar calls.

“When it comes to domestic violence, we’re definitely getting just a little bit more of those,” said Huntsville Police Lieutenant Michael Johnson. “Not all of them are actually turning out to be domestic violence crimes, but they’re complaints that we’re having to investigate.”

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence — based in Denver — says 31 percent of women and 27 percent of men in Alabama have experienced physical violence or sexual abuse by an intimate partner.

Advocates said their phone lines are open for those who need help, but there are things you can do at home.

“Things like always keep your phone on you at all times, identify a room in your house that doesn’t have any weapons that you can kind of access — get through and get out. Things like parking your car backward,” said LaFontaine.

There are a number of local resources to assist domestic violence victims or other in need:

Crisis Services of North Alabama

Crisis Number 256-716-1000

Non-Emergency Calls: 256-716-4052

AshaKiran

Crisis Phone AshaLines

256-509-1882 or 800-793-3010

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