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Advocacy Groups Worried About Unreported Domestic Violence, Child Abuse During Stay-At-Home Orders

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As people venture out only for necessities and adhere to stay-at-home orders, there's concern by advocacy groups about unreported cases of child abuse and domestic violence.

"We also noticed that since we've gone into this pandemic and started putting the requests in for social distancing, we saw a mild increase in child abuse cases as well as domestics just for the month of March," said Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony.

When kids are in school, someone is keeping an eye out for signs of abuse. Child advocate Yvette DuBose from Heart Gallery Broward told CBS4's Ted Scouten that front line defense is now gone.

"The safe haven of the school is not there for the children and we usually have our reported cases, a high number, come from teachers who spend a lot of time in the class setting," DuBose said. "So we don't have that now."

Mary Riedel is with Women in Distress. She has similar concerns.

"We're concerned now and what may be coming down the line in the next few weeks," she said.

Their hotline normally receives between 2,000 and 2,200 calls a month. Now calls are down, and she has a chilling explanation.

"It says to us there are people are very trapped," she said. "Survivors and people in domestic abuse situations are trapped all the time, but particularly now, they may not even be able to make a phone call safely."

In both domestic violence and child abuse cases, advocates believe the stress of looking for a job, wondering how to feed the family and tensions at home likely play a role in potential abuse.

"We do know that tensions are high because of job loss," DuBose said. "One of the triggers for abuse and domestic violence is socioeconomic factors, joblessness, and that tends to lead to drinking, drug abuse, which tends to lead to domestic and child abuse."

In this time of coronavirus, BSO is noticing an alarming uptick in deadly overdoses. In February, 19 people died of drug overdoses. In March it was 18. In April, in just the first few days, the number is 8, nearly one per day.

"Just the same with the domestic violence and those cases, we're going to see a little spike like you saw in March," Sheriff Tony said. "We'll see some more probably with the overdose, but it's all related to the set of circumstances we're dealing with in terms of how we're handling this virus."

Whether its child abuse, domestic violence or drug overdoses, the fastest way to get help is call or text 911.  If that's not possible, here are additional resources:

To Become A Foster Parent: 

Child Abuse Hotline 

  • 1-800-96-ABUSE

Women In Distress Hotline 

211 - Miami-Dade & Broward 


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