Risk of domestic violence present during COVID-19 quarantine

Local News

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala (WIAT) — The SafeHouse of Shelby County, a domestic violence shelter, wants victims to know they are still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and are here to help.

Elishua Markham with SafeHouse said she understands right now, the safest thing for people is to stay at home to flatten the curve of the virus outbreak, but she also said this is a perfect scenario for unhealthy relationships to be violent.

“Isolation threats domestic violence, that is a common type anyway is to separate people from family and loved ones and right now the whole world is asking us to do that anyway, and so it is almost a perfect condition to have domestic violence thrive right now,” Markham said.

The Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said he worries domestic violence cases will increase during these times of social distancing and isolation.

“Obviously, as the stress level goes up for families, and whether it’s in this situation or the economic issues going on right now, the closer proximity, you have violence that could occur,” Adair said. “We see a large segment of our population, good things come from this and see some of the best of mankind but we have some issues when stress gets high that you have the worse comes out in people and one way you see that is domestic violence.”

Adair said just because people are practicing social distancing doesn’t mean they have to disconnect from loved ones. He asks for people to look out for the most vulnerable, children, the elderly, and those who may be in a violent relationship.

Walker County reported a deadly domestic violence case that occurred Wednesday, but Adair said they can’t connect the stress of COVID-19 with that specific case.

Adair said they have a shelter called Day Break, which is a spouse abuse center that has been very helpful for the county. Markham at the SafeHouse said their Crisis Hotline is still open 24-7. She said they are seeing an increase in calls from law enforcement who are reporting domestic violence.

“Unfortunately, if you’re in an abusive relationship, that might trap you in the home of your abuser so we’re concerned one, it will keep people from seeking services with us because they’re worried about going out or don’t know we’re still here providing services and also just we know that tension can be worse right now as your stuck with people because even healthy relationships, that can be a lot,” she said.

The crisis hotline for SafeHouse of Shelby County is 205-669-7233. Alabama’s Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-650-6522.


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