Calls to domestic violence hotlines rose during the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a surge of domestic violence calls in Michigan. But the problem may be larger than numbers suggest.

The nearly year-old pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s lives, causing a rise in reported depression and anxiety. Domestic abuse hotlines in Michigan have recorded a commensurate increase in calls for help.

The Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence represents 73 domestic abuse shelters in Michigan, including Kalamazoo’s YWCA. The organization said it has seen the number of calls to its hotline skyrocket in recent weeks.

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It logged 1,000 calls in January. That’s compared 1,250 calls during the entirety of its 2019-2020 fiscal year.

However, there is concern that the calls they are receiving may just be the tip of the iceberg.

“We’re worried it’s not reflective of what’s happening,” said Sarah Prout Rennie, the executive director of the MCEDSV, in an interview with WZZM 13. “At a time that need is at its most, our ability to serve folks is at its lowest.”

She said isolation during the pandemic has meant people have fewer social resources to turn to when things get bad at home. Furthermore, other resources that could address issues like domestic violence have been stretched thin.

“I think that law enforcement is overwhelmed,” said Prout Rennie. “There are problems with the justice system being able to arraign folks. So, law enforcement may not have a place to put someone if they do arrest.”

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