Domestic violence calls increase as COVID-19 forces people home

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- With so many families being cooped up due to the coronavirus pandemic, the potential for domestic violence increases.

Freedom House to train salon professionals on how to spot and handle clients who suffer / may suffer from domestic or sexual violence. (Image Downloaded: MGN Credit MGN)

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In just one-week police found a 50 percent increase in the number of calls.

Douglas County deputies have responded to 23 domestic violence calls. Last year, during the same week, that number was nine.

Captain Wayne Hudson with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office attributes the increase to the coronavirus outbreak creating more families huddled together longer.

“Now, you have much more close contact with people... We kind of knew like on holidays we kind of knew our domestic violence calls would go up,” said Wayne Hudson.

Experts say more people suffer from frustration and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 virus and are seeking help.

“A few weeks back probably a couple a day, now we're into the 40-50 contacts a day,” said Hudson.

As families spend more time together, disputes can easily boil over.

“Scientists say that there are more conflicts, a little more argument getting angry upset with each other because it’s something they haven't done a lot of before,” said Ginny Gohr, the Director of Boys Town National hotline.

For victims of domestic violence, the outbreak makes it harder to leave a toxic situation. Experts suggest staying in contact with friends and family outside the home.

“They come up with code words so that if there is a problem, they say that code word in a conversation, that they have some escape plans they've got their documents all the important things they need to have if they have to leave,” said Amy Richardson with WCA.

As the virus spreads, Hudson hopes domestic violence doesn't make a family situation worse.

"We really don't want to intervene in a domestic situation but if we have to and there is evidence of a domestic assault and it was witnessed by kids, then that's an extra charge.

If you need immediate help for domestic violence concerns the number for Women’s Center for Advancement is 402-345-7273.

The number for the Boys Town National Hotline is 1-800 448-3000.