I have previously written about the inevitable spike in domestic violence and child abuse cases resulting from the stay-at-home orders, which, of course, are absolutely necessary to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. In some places, calls to police and domestic violence hotlines and shelters are up at least 30%. Some municipalities are reporting increases in calls of almost 50%. The situation is so bad worldwide that the United Nations has called for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in domestic violence cases. These cases include child abuse. Tragically, some of these cases result in homicide of spouses and often children.
What is deceiving in terms of statistics of crimes of violence against women and children is that they are significantly underreported at this time. Prior to the pandemic, victims could flee, initiate a safety plan and leave the home. However, it is difficult now for victims to be able to even call for help, as they are trapped in the house with their abusers. This dangerous situation is likely to continue for quite some time. When children are not in school, there is nobody to notice telltale signs of child abuse. Likewise, if a spouse is not able to go to work, that person is less likely to have someone to whom to report the abuse.
The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office has launched a Crimes of Violence Against Women and Children Unit. This is a much-needed unit. It will be investigating acts of domestic violence. Domestic violence shelters are still open and taking people in. The Courts are all holding hearings on Civil Protection Orders on a daily basis.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, people are here to help you. Victims can call 855-OH-CHILD (642-4453). Or text Women Helping Women at 513-421-4420.