DETROIT – Domestic violence has intensified since the pandemic started and with the winter months right around the corner experts fear the situation could get even worse.
With COVID and flu season people might stay at home more than in past winters, but the question is what does that mean when home isn’t safe for everyone?
“It has been scary, but hopeful,” said Aimee Nimeh, president and CEO of HAVEN, a domestic violence shelter in Oakland County.
That duality is how Nimeh describes what they have seen in the last year and a half.
“It has definitely increased how concerned we are, but there has also been so much hope by way of the community response to the issue,” said Nimeh.
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The shelter along with First Step in Wayne are seeing a shift including more intense abuse.
Oakland County alone saw more homicides related to domestic violence.
“We’re seeing an increase in our sexual assault examination cases and with those cases what we’re seeing is an increase in strangulation,” said Nimeh.
A lot more situations involving weapons, strangulation and threats or you know, murder,” said Lori Kitchen-Buschel, executive director of First Step.
According to First Step since March of 2020 domestic violence reports in Metro Detroit have increased by 35 percent.
While we are further into the pandemic the next few months will still be a challenge.
“When it is colder, when we start to isolate, we do start to stay in more, again, that creates increases in access for violence, and therefore creates more intensity as well,” said Kitchen-Buschel.
They are anticipating another difficult winter.
“When people are home more and you need to be able to call for help it’s really hard to do that when you don’t have any time alone,” said Kitchen-Buschel.
With October being domestic violence awareness month there’s hope more people will seek or lend help.
“The silver lining is that the community has really, really come out to show support for us and continues to do so,” said Nimeh.