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Don't suffer in silence: Domestic violence in Houston up 40% since COVID crisis began

Everyone is under stress during a pandemic but for victims of domestic violence, it can be a powder keg waiting to explode.

HOUSTON — With families staying home because of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence cases are on the rise, according to the Houston Area Women's Center. 

They report a 40% increase in cases since the COVID-19 crisis began. 

The Houston Police Department is also tracking an uptick in cases.

"It is hell to be at home with an abuser and to be quarantined with an abuser," Emilee Whitehurst president of the Houston Area Women's Center said.

HAWC has partnered with the City of Houston for a city-wide domestic violence awareness initiative to reach vulnerable populations and provide resources for victims.

“We cannot tolerate victims suffering in silence while home at the hands of their domestic abusers,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council is also on board.

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AS part of the initiative, Turner announced a $50,000 grant from Uber to provide ride services to victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

“I want to thank Uber for stepping forward and providing $50,000 in rides to ensure that they have a safe way to move around,” Turner said. 

The initiative plans include:

  • Rolling out a social media campaign designed by HAWC and the HCDVCC featuring safety tips, hotline numbers, and videos by Houston Dash players.
  • HAWC and HCDVCC launching a new website, www.nocovidabuse.org, which contains vital information and resources.
  • Leveraging Office of Emergency Management’s messaging delivery systems to ensure people know the domestic violence service providers are open and are able to help.
  • Partnering with the Houston Food Bank to place resource flyers in distributed boxes and bags.
  • HEB will assist with printing flyers for these distributions.
  • Providing $50,000 in Uber rides for human trafficking and domestic violence victims as needed.
  • The city is also helping to address the need for short-term hotel lodging for victims since shelters have to reduce their populations to allow for social distancing.

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“We may be apart, but victims of domestic violence are not alone. I am grateful to all of our community partners, and our law enforcement agencies, for working together with us to reach as many people as possible,” said Councilmember Abbie Kamin. “We also call on all residents to be aware, to be vigilant, and to help others in need by sharing this information. We will continue to do everything we can to make sure Houstonians are safe.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available at (713) 528-2121. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.