Quarantine poses unique challenge for domestic abuse victims, local advocates say

Posted at 12:32 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 14:55:06-04

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) — While non-fatal shootings in Detroit are up, overall violent crime in the city is down since the outbreak of COVID-19, something Mayor Duggan has attributed to fewer people on the street.

Reported cases of domestic violence are also down, but local advocates warn that instances of abuse are likely up since the first stay-at-home order took effect back in mid-March.

Over the same 28-day period in Detroit, from March 16 through April 12 – the Detroit Police Department received 12 percent fewer reports of domestic violence, down from 2,052 in 2019 to 1,796 reports in 2020.

“When somebody is living with an abuser within a home, first of all they’re afraid of calling the cops or calling for help," said Dr. Chad Audi with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM).

He said greater instances of abuse is one of the reasons DRMM's shelters are busier than usual, filled mostly with women and children.

“The numbers of domestic violence is much higher than is being reported. They are constantly under the observation of their abuser in a lock-down situation," he said.

And children in difficult home situations no longer have regularly contact with the adults that normally, would report red flags.

“Children are obviously not in school right now, they’re not riding the bus, they’re not on sports teams where other adults have eyes on the children," said Executive Director of Foster Care at Samaritas, Lauren Mitchell.

Samaritas is a non-profit organization serving foster children and their families all around Michigan. They work to place kids in the best environment possible, following the intervening of Child Protective Services. Mitchell said reports into CPS state-wide are way down since the pandemic.

“Those complaints since early March have decreased significantly. Early March, there were almost 5,000 complaints that came in and last week there were under 2,000 complaints that came in," she said.

It's something the organization knew would likely happen once the stay-at-home order took effect.

“Ironically, May is National Foster Care Month,” said Mitchell.

It's a time when Samaritas would normally be celebrating their foster families; instead, staff is aware that many kids might be stuck in bad situations.

Samaritas can only intervene once CPS has been called.

Mitchell and her staff are now preparing to be inundated with new cases following the outbreak; anticipating a spike in the need for foster placement in the summer and the fall.

They're already training new staff.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, help is available:

  • Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries: 313-993-4700.
  • U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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