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Domestic violence increasing during pandemic, help is available

Posted at 6:32 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 19:32:07-04

OMAHA, NEB. (KMTV) — Research is beginning to show domestic violence in is trending up during the pandemic.

According to HTI Labs, in Douglas County, from February 1 to April 30, domestic violence incidents increased to 1,398 in 2020 from 1,221 in 2019; a 15-percent increase.

“It also decreased the opportunity for survivors to discretely access a support system,” Crysta Price, CEO of HTI Labs, said. “Whether its family, friends, coworkers, nonprofit service provider advocates, this is what can often help a victim decide to call law enforcement for help.”

Stephanie Olson, CEO of The Set Me Free Project, shared her experience as a domestic violence survivor during a virtual forum Tuesday morning hosted by Congressman Don Bacon.

“The last thing you want to do is tell people that support you that something is going on in your marriage or in your relationship because once you make up they’re going to end up hating your spouse,” Olson said. “And that is probably one of the biggest mistakes I made. That is really common. There is a lot of shame, a lot of blame.”

Olson said her mom first thought something might be off when she panicked one day after spilling something on the carpet.

“I had spilled something so simple,” Olson said. “Because I knew the repercussions of spilling something on the carpet would be pretty overwhelming for me.”

Price said shame has a big effect on domestic violence in smaller towns when it seems like everyone knows everyone.

“When everything feels extremely tied up into this situation,” Price said. “It can feel overwhelming to think about how do you even start the process of leaving?”

“The thought of leaving is often a non-existent thought because this is the person I love, this is the person I’m committed to, this is the person who takes care of me,” Olson said. “And that’s where that control comes in often. And I don’t know where else to turn. I think that was my biggest fear. When I leave what do I do? I’m on my own, I’m alone, I have nothing.”

But you're not alone; there are a lot of resources available to help right now during the pandemic such as the Women's Center for Advancement. Advocates are available if you need help coming up with a plan; call the 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline at (402) 345-7273.