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'This Isolation Is A Tactic': Experts Expect Rise Of Domestic Violence Cases Amid Stay-At-Home Order

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - As if the threat of COVID-19 isn't enough, the order to stay in our homes is creating a secondary threat. The experts say abuse in some form is an issue in one in every four homes and it cuts across every economic level and every neighborhood.

Add the need to stay cooped up and "It can really kindle abuse," says Nicole Molinaro of the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Michele Gibb who leads the Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center says the issue is right now the victims are trapped with their abuser.

"I think we're going to see increases in domestic violence, partner violence, child abuse because this isolation is a tactic that people used to have to design and now isolation is the rule of law. So it is frightening," says Gibb.

In the last couple of weeks, the number of calls to domestic abuse protection agencies has dropped significantly, which Molinaro says is not good.

"When you are a victim of domestic violence you actually have a very limited window to reach out for health and safety," says Molinaro.

And Gibb adds that window of safety is gone, "because individuals have been able to call when the abusive partner left the house for work or some other means or they could call when they were at work."

And with calling out of the question, in most cases Molinaro says plan ahead: "If someone is in a house and the abuser is starting to get triggered maybe they can leave the house just to even go to the street to get safety."

Meanwhile Gibb says, "We've had some messages through Facebook."

The experts say reaching out by direct messaging on social media is a possibility. But Molinaro warns, "Just being safe about it if your abuser monitors your electronic devises." Also, there are privacy concerns using social media.

Again, this is not just spousal abuse. Molinaro says children are very vulnerable: "If not direct child abuse, the child witnessing abuse will increase everybody stuck together in the household 24 hours a day and there's just no relief."

In some cases, this isolation may cause first time abuse. The important thing to remember is reach out for help either directly or through a trusted friend.

Here's a list of agencies that can help:

  • Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, Inc. -- 724-224-1266
  • Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh -- 412-687-8005
  • Center for Victims -- 1-866-644-2882
  • Crisis Center North -- 412-364-5556
  • HAVIN -- 1-800-841-8881
  • VOICe -- 1-800-400-8551
  • Blackburn Center -- 1-888-832-2272
  • DV Services of Southwestern PA -- 1-800-791-4000
  • Women's Center of Beaver County -- 1-877-629-1841
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