Officials said domestic violence impacts one in four women and is more prevalent for women in Connecticut and in the United States than diabetes and breast cancer combined and cases are on the rise amid the pandemic and the holiday season.
"Domestic violence is sadly becoming more prevalent,” said Connecticut Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz on a virtual call hosted Wednesday afternoon.
Officials said in Connecticut, nearly 40,000 victims reach out to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its 18 member organizations for help each year and they believe that number will continue to increase.
“Shelters are at 150% capacity,” explained Karen Jarmoc, president and CEO of The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “One hundred percent of the shelters are full and then 50% of that overload is being housed in hotels for their safety. Advocates are reaching out like never before so there’s been a 70% increase in their activity."
Speakers for the conversation included President and CEO of The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Karen Jarmoc, Executive Director of The Domestic Violence Crisis Center Suzanne Adam and Executive Director of The Network Karen Foley O'Connor.
During the pandemic, officials said calls have increased to the DVCC by 71% and the length of calls are longer. Due to the pandemic, advocacy may not be done in person, but may now be done online and through various forms of social media, they added.
Online resources are available at CTSafeConnect.org.
“It’s very easy to simply click one of the circle icons and access a live chat, a conversation, an email, a text whatever makes the most sense for you,” said Jarmoc, “An advocate is available 24/7 it might be just to talk to that person. It might be just to think through a safety plan if you’re considering leaving but also if you’re considering staying what does that mean for you, what does that mean for your kids, how do you navigate these circumstances.”
According to experts, there are various reasons for why they believe the calls have increased including stress, the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety, the holidays and the possibility that the state may close down again.
Right now, survivors and children of domestic violence are being housed in either shelters or hotels.
According to officials, college age women (18-24) are the most at risk group for domestic violence and are most at risk to experience intimate partner violence.
Experts said they want to educate residents, especially young people. Dating violence can start subtly and young people may not realize they're being controlled or manipulated or that the situation is escalating to violence.
Authorities said they expect another increase in calls in January and February after the holidays where alcohol abuse will play a role.
Despite the increases, officials said help is available 24/7, is fully confidential and bilingual services are available. The DVCC 24/7 hotline number is 888–774–2900.