KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
April 30, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Local authorities have reported an alarming increase in domestic abuse cases. The rise of unemployment, stay-at-home orders and the stress of the current pandemic have been cited as contributing factors.
Authorities Report Local Domestic Abuse Crimes Increase
The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect Katy residents. Families have been readjusting their lives as jobs were lost or became remote, businesses closed, and children started homeschooling through virtual school
“People are not only stuck home, but many are experiencing reduced income or have lost jobs altogether, “says Major Chad Norvell with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.
Major Norvell reports that the county has seen a 27% increase in domestic abuse related calls since the first closures and stay at home situation began on March 12.
“It’s a major challenge mainly because the stay at home order makes it problematic for victims of domestic violence to seek help when they are trapped in the environment they are trying to leave,” says Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers Houston.
Non-Profits Support Victims Through Crisis
Non-profit organizations that provide support for residents in crisis have also seen an increase in calls about abuse.
“The threats to victims have become more severe in these times of isolation, ironically in the place where they should be safe in ‘their homes,’" says Susan Hastings, Director of Crisis Center with Katy Christian Ministries (KCM). “This confinement is fostering tension, strain and anxiety created by loss of security, health and money worries.”
KCM reports that calls to their emergency hotlines have gone up by 26% as compared to last month.
Flattening the Virus May Increase Domestic Violence Curve
“Women are being isolated with their violent partners,” says Hastings. “Children are being exposed to physical and sexual violence.”
“This situation is particularly challenging because of the stay-at-home order to flatten the coronavirus curve,” said Emilee Whitehurst, president and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center. “We may unfortunately be increasing the domestic violence curve.”
Non-Profits Adjust to Help While Meeting CDC Guidelines
KCM and other non-profit groups have altered their services to adhere to the Center for Disease Control recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We have established our services virtually through telework and/or teleconferencing platforms, while we are working from home,” says Hastings. “Our goal is continued support to victims.”
Katy Christian Ministries offers two hotlines as calls continue to increase.
Domestic Abuse Hotline