MEMPHIS, Tenn — As an unfortunate side effect of the pandemic, cases of domestic violence aggravated assaults are on the rise locally.
The Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission reports cases peaked by 30% in May. In June and July, the numbers were still up 19% and 16%.
“The data from the crime commission just affirmed for me what we’ve been worried about since the lock down and the stay at home orders began," Deborah Clubb, Memphis Area Women’s Council Executive Director, said.
Clubb also works with Memphis Says No More, an organization that strives to end domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Over the summer, they began running a PSA entitled "An epidemic you can't wash your hands of" to show domestic violence was rising. It also encourages people to look out for their neighbors and themselves.
Clubb said people must be on alert and willing to help to prevent further escalation of the epidemic.
“Each of us can help any of us," Clubb said. "That’s the bottom line and in these times we all need to try.”
The Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County, located in Midtown, backs up the recent report. The nonprofit organization provides assistance to victims like emergency housing.
“We are seeing the increase in the number of clients that we actually house," Priscilla Blackmon, FSC Emergency Housing Coordinator, said.
Blackmon said the uptick in new cases they're handling could also be attributed to stay-at-home relaxing which allowed for victims to get a safe distance away to call for help.
"When they're able to get out and get to a phone and let someone know that they're in a situation that is not safe for them, those numbers escalate," Blackmon said.
Both Blackmon and Clubb said the added stresses of the pandemic and job losses is leading to more cases of abuse.
“What we want to do here at the Family Safety Center, what we’re trying to do is make sure that the victim knows that they have somewhere to go and they don’t have to stay in that situation," Blackmon said.
Clubb's fear is if this epidemic of abuse is left unaddressed and underserved, it will lead to more deaths.
“That worries me because the longer that this goes on, the longer the stress continues, the longer the forced sort of isolation goes on then the more chance there will be of someone completely losing control," she said.
If you or someone are in immediate danger, call 911.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or via text by messaging "LOVEIS" to 1-866-331-9474. Online chat is also available on the hotline website.
Memphis Says No More has also provided a list of local resources:
Casa Luz – for Spanish speaking families. Urgent and crises clients in-person, other counseling by phone. (901) 500-8214 – leave message or text 24/7.
Family Safety Center – safety planning and evaluation for Orders of Protection by phone, (901) 222-4400 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Emergency sheltering for high risk clients. Crisis line (901) 249-7611.
Kindred Place – phone, email and video chat for counseling and educational services; accepting new clients and continuing in-person sessions on case-by-case basis. (901) 276-2200.
Memphis Child Advocacy Center – staff on campus for critical child sexual abuse and other severe abuse services for children 13 and under, otherwise available by phone and email. Multi-agency investigative team continues to meet daily via video conference. (901) 525-2377.
Shelby County Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center – assistance with Orders of Protection in critical safety cases (screening via telephone). Counselors and victim advocates available via (901) 222-3950 or online request 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. 24/7 /365 sexual assault forensic exams and hotline (901) 222-4350.
YWCA DV Crisis Hotline – phone interview for possible emergency shelter (901) 725-4277.
HELP IN JACKSON, TN:
Women’s Resource & Rape Assistance Program (WRAP) 1-800-273-8712. Located at 512 Roland Ave, Jackson, TN 38301
The Family Safety Center said the pandemic has also exacerbated its funding. To donate, click here.