CCPD, SPD report recent rise in domestic violence calls

CCPD, SPD report recent rise in domestic violence calls
CCPD, SPD report recent rise in domestic violence calls
Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 7:01 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This week we’re learning the latest on a disturbing trend that’s playing out nation-wide, even right here in the Savannah area.

Victim advocates attribute isolation, financial strain and a number of other stressors amid the COVID-19 pandemic to a spike in domestic violence cases.

WTOC spoke to the leader of the Chatham County Family Justice Center about what they’re seeing locally.

Laurel Crawford, Executive Director of the Chatham County Family Justice Center said, “This is what we anticipated was going to happen. But since we’ve gotten the numbers from Chatham County Police Department and Savannah Police Department, they’ve been confirmed.”

Just this week, CCPD reported an average of 4.2 domestic violence calls a day the first two weeks of April. That’s up from 3.6 a day the same time last year.

With regard to CCPD’s numbers, Crawford added, “The scariest part about this is that 70-percent of the calls that they have gotten are first-time reporters.”

Crawford said new cases likely started off as emotional or mental abuse, but because of the pandemic, escalated to physical abuse.

The first few weeks of April, Savannah Police have also reported a jump in domestic violence-related cases, up an average of three calls a day from the same time last year.

And with all the first time reporters, the process of pushing a temporary protective order is getting bogged down according to Crawford.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to work with the judicial system and judges and other organizations and agencies, and the District Attorney’s Office to try to streamline those TPO’s. Hopefully we will have a solution here in the next couple of days to take some of the burden off of the judicial system and help with those," said Crawford.

Crawford said the main thing is that victims come forward for help, and that groups like hers and other non-profits will help them figure out next steps.

“A lot of the anxiety that comes with leaving a domestic violence situation is, what am I going to do after this. So that is what causes people to shy away from leaving a situation, is they don’t have the answers. And what we are saying is, you don’t have to have all the answers, we’re here to help you with those.”

You can visit the Chatham County Family Justice Center’s Facebook page for more information, or call 912.659.5282

If a situation turns threatening or violent, call 9-1-1 right away. Those who are not in immediate danger, but want help leaving an abusive spouse or partner, can call Safe Shelter’s 24-hour Crisis Line at 912.629.8888

For those who are not in an abusive situation, but are concerned about the extra stress in their household and the potential for escalating tensions, there are resources available where you can receive assistance. You can call the Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs at 66746. You can reach the Georgia Crisis line at 1-800-715-4225.

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