Pandemic makes it harder for many domestic violence victims to get help

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Leaving an abusive relationship can be hard but the coronavirus has made it even harder for many.

FOX13 has been reporting for months law enforcement analysts predicted domestic violence cases would increase during the pandemic.

One woman though her boyfriend would kill her if she had not walked away.

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She had the courage to walk away and get help from a shelter before it was too late.  To protect her identity, will not reveal her name.

“When a person is constantly beating you, you get tired,” she said.

The mother of three young children got the courage to leave her abusive boyfriend a few months ago. She told FOX13 they were dating for three years and lived together.

FOX13 asked what gave her the strength to walk away.

“One day I thought I was going to die, and he choked me until I stopped breathing for a little while,” she explained.

RELATED: Help is available as domestic violence cases are on the rise in Shelby County

In Shelby County and across the country, experts found the restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus created more dangerous situations in some households.

“If you can reach out to one of your neighbors, friends, anyone because if you don’t, it’s going to be too late,” said the victim.

Deborah Clubb is the executive director of the Memphis Area Business Council and coordinator of the Memphis Says No More Campaign.  

As she predicted, the police department confirmed that aggravated assaults increased once people started making reports.  She says it’s possible domestic homicides could top last year’s total in Shelby County.

“We are very concerned that as that continues and as the stresses on people only gets worse with job loss and evictions and children at home all the time and all the things that can cause ordinary healthy families go through a lot of problems,” Clubb said.

“I knew I had to leave because if I didn’t leave, I would probably be dead,” said the victim.

Clubb says pay attention to your colleagues during video calls.  If you see bruises or they’re paranoid when someone enters the room, be sure to reach out to someone who can help.

Rep. G.A. Hardaway is working closely with members of the Black Caucus and women’s advocacy groups to address domestic violence.

The executive director of the YWCA in Memphis said their shelter went from 25 to 50 residents in one day last week.

Hardaway says he’s getting more phone calls from victims struggling to leave their abusers and in desperate need of help.

“There’s no way that you’re going to be able to get the victim out of harm’s way if you don’t have housing stock available, emergency housing and long-term housing,” he said.

Hardaway is urging candidates running for office to talk about their plans to keep domestic violence victims safe.  This conversation will be center stage during a news conference with candidates Friday.

“What do you intend to do to fund those programs that will help to prevent, if you can’t prevent to intervene,” he said.

FOX13 expects to learn more about that press conference in the coming days.

If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, click here to find resources available in your area.

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