Domestic violence shelter visits rise
Shelters see more visits as shutdown subsides
Experts say fear of contracting virus led to numbers falling in April.
After noticing fewer in-person visits amid April’s statewide coronavirus lockdown, domestic violence shelters say more people are now seeking protection from abusers as Central Florida emerges from its hibernation, a trend they expect will continue with the economy still in distress.
Domestic violence became an issue of heightened concern when Gov. Ron DeSantis placed the state under lockdown last month because of COVID-19. Victim welfare advocates feared a spike in cases, noting that, in times of natural disaster, economic hardship or other crisis, people in strained relationships face an elevated risk of abuse.
The amount of domestic violence arrests in the area for April were lower than in 2019, but advocates believe the stay-at-home mandate may have prevented people from reporting abuse because they were unable to leave or find a safe place to call someone.
Harbor House of Central Florida, a shelter in Orange County, saw an increase in calls during the shutdown even as in-person visits decreased. Those who came to seek in-person refuge did so as a last resort, Harbor House CEO