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22% increase in domestic violence crisis calls during pandemic, experts say

Posted at 9:51 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-29 00:39:34-04

TULSA, Okla. — There's an increase in domestic violence amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic Violence Intervention Services in Tulsa said it first saw calls drop at the beginning of the safer at home order and knew it wasn't a good sign.

"The saddest part about people being at home in place with abusive partners is there's just, they're stuck there with violence," said Donna Mathews, chief operating officers of DVIS.

Crisis calls and walk-ins at DVIS have now gone up 22 percent this year compared to last year.

The Tulsa Police Department Family Violence Unit received 192 more calls in the first six months and saw strangulations jump from 58 in June 2019 to 81 this June.

"We did expect to see the numbers go up," said Carissa Hon, director of communications for DVIS. "We just don't know how high they're going to go. Obviously, we're still seeing an increase and we're kind of waiting to see where we end up, how high the increase will go."

DVIS knew it needed a different way to reach those needing help. It created a crisis texting line available from 8 p.m to 1 a.m. It still has walk-in services here at the outreach office as well as its crisis phone line.

More help is also on the way.

A large grant from the Department of Justice means Tulsa County is receiving nearly $450,000 to create a docket, monitoring domestic violence offenders and develop policies and training for court personnel and community partners on firearms surrender after a domestic violence conviction or protection order.

The city of Tulsa will get $750,000 to support investigations, victim-witness services, and a new prosecution unit.

"They need the support and help from the courts, obviously," Mathews said. "They need the courts to be as well set up as possible and as well funded as possible."

DVIS also made changes due to the pandemic. Many of its services happen now via telemedicine. Domestic violence victims moving into the shelter are first placed in a hotel to quarantine.

The crisis text line number is 833-338-5763. The phone line is 918-7 HELP-ME or 918-743-5763. The outreach office is at 3124 E Apache in North Tulsa. You can find more links and info on the DVIS website here.

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