Victims are isolated and can’t call for help.
Frederick, Md (KM) With so many people staying at home to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, domestic violence has spiked. That’s according to Inga James, the Executive Director of Heartly House in Frederick.
With so many victims isolated, she said they don’t have access to their support networks. “We know that people are trapped in their homes through the quarantine and isolated,” she said. “Isolation is one of the best ways to control a victim.”
James says when these victims are isolated, they cannot call for help. “We’re also seeing that on our own hotline, our new client load is much down from last year at this time, our call volumes are down. And because people can’t call,”; she says.
The reason for that, James says, is they would put their lives in danger if they did.call. . “At the best, they don’t have a private space in their house to talk. At the worst, they’re not safe in calling and it could be dangerous or fatal for them to call.,” she says.
“The abuse that we’re seeing through the COVID pandemic is getting so much more serious and severe. More weapons are being used; more strangulation,” she continued.
She also said part of the problem is the stress caused by the slow economy due to the coronavirus which has resulted in job losses,and reductions in hours and salaries. “And people who abuse other people have weak coping methods for dealing with stress,” says James.
James spoke last week to the County Council which is considering a bill to set up a Domestic Violence Coordinating Council . If it passes, the Council would advise the County Executive, County Council and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission and its members on policies, programs and legislation necessary to prevent domestic violence and assist victims and their families. It would also promote and facilitate an effective community-wide victim-centered response to domestic violence. Along with that, it would cooperate with any relevant departments, agencies, committees, boards, commissioners and other entities to periodically review the quality and sufficiency of programs and facilities available to domestic violence victims, offenders and their children all across the county.
The Council held a hearing on the bill last Tuesday, but no one testified. Members are expected to vote on the legislation at a future date.
The bill is sponsored by Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater.
By Kevin McManus