FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of domestic violence calls in Forsyth County.
Court records show there were 18 arrests for family violence in February. By March, when shelter-in-place became the norm, the number increased to 22 arrests. After Gov. Brian Kemp issued the statewide stay-at-home order April 3, there were nine new incidents reported within two days.
The Georgia Commission on Family Violence and Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence issued a joint statement addressing domestic violence during COVID-19 April 14.
“Sheltering in place does not mean that a victim of domestic violence is required to stay in isolation with an abusive partner,” the statement read. “People impacted by domestic violence can still get the support of an advocate for help accessing crucial resources.”
Local domestic violence shelters and organizations are working to provide anyone who calls with safe housing, both safe from exposure to COVID-19 and safe from abuse. The 24-hour statewide domestic violence hotline is still available as a resource for those seeking help to escape violence in their home. The number is 1-800-33-HAVEN.
A survivor’s chance of safely accessing help, like calling 911, will likely be limited because they are home with their abusers.
“Police intervention can be life-saving, but we know there are very real barriers for some survivors contacting the police,” the commission said. “Survivors should not have to take any actions that they feel would jeopardize their safety.”
Citizens can still seek temporary protective orders during this time by contacting their local courthouse clerk’s office or domestic violence organization for information.
During this pandemic it is not unusual for abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants. Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention.