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COVID-19 may have increased incidents of domestic violence

For many of us, home is a sanctuary. It's a place of safety and refuge, but that's not the reality for everyone. I spoke with Carmen Pitre, CEO and president of Sojourner Family Peace Center, to learn about resources available for domestic violence survivors during the pandemic.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In one year that equates to more than 10 million men and women.

“What concerns us about COVID is the extra isolation,” said Pitre. “It creates barriers in people's lives and the barriers to leaving.”

“We live in a culture that normalizes violence,” said Pitre. "Any level of violence in a relationship is unacceptable. It is not normal for love and violence to go together."

When there are times of stress perhaps from a lack of job security and poverty, domestic violence spikes in numbers. To combat the increasing number of domestic violence cases, the center has created a safety guide to keep families safe during COVID-19.

Some of the warning signs of violent behavior can be controlling and obsessive behavior, not allowing an individual autonomy to make their own choices, destruction of property and physical violence.

If you feel unsafe in your own home, watch for patterns of abuse and identify safe areas in your household where there are no access to weapons. Prite says even with the COVID-19 stay at home order, survivors can take measures to ensure safety.

"The first thing is if you are being hurt, know that you are not alone and it's not your fault," said Prite. "We are here to help.”

  • Sojourner has a 24-hour hotline at 414-933-2722.
  • The center offers shelter if the beds are up to capacity they can direct you to another shelter.
  • Sojourner can help obtain a temporary restraining order and help with an injunction process.
  • One can speak with an advocate for one-on-one assistance.
  • Resources are provided for offenders.
  • Resources are provided to help a loved one.
  • For more information click here.

Beyond the center, the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services updated its new campaign, "Stay Home, Save Lives" to address and include information about domestic abuse.

“I know sometimes we think we can survive whatever is coming and we don't know what will happen in the next episode of violence,” said Pitre. “We want to urge people to reach out.”

Audio Storyteller / 88Nine On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee