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Jacksonville sees increase in domestic violence during pandemic

With many people staying at home, Hubbard House creates a new way to help domestic violence survivors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has seen a rise in reports of domestic violence as people have been urged to stay inside their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are experiencing about a 20% increase in domestic violence. Obviously, that’s probably directly related to the quarantine and people spending more time together,” Sheriff Mike Williams said during a virtual news conference last week. “(We’re) spending some extra time on those domestic violence calls to ensure that when we get that initial call that it doesn’t escalate into something more serious.”

Numbers from the Sheriff’s Office gives insight into the psychological effect that the pandemic is having. In March, JSO responded to 31 calls. There were also 200 calls about domestic violence from March 15 to April 14.

“I’m not surprised that the numbers went up because you’re talking about abusers having greater access to victims and their children and we’re talking about victims and children who are not having as much access to go out and get help because they’re isolated and often times trapped in the home with the abuser," said Dr. Gail Patin, CEO of Hubbard House.

To help those in domestic violence situations, the Hubbard House has now created a texting hotline number to give survivors an alternative option if they’re scared to make a phone call.

According to Patin, the Hubbard House has seen a 36% increase in domestic violence calls in the first three months of 2020 compared to 2019. But because some domestic violence survivors are quarantined with their abuser, Patin said, the Hubbard House believes this has led to an 11% decrease from February to March.

“That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to find other ways for survivors to reach out to us rather than only having the verbal option to call on the phone because we know it’s a lot more difficult now for survivors to get on the phone and actually have a verbal conversation versus this new text option,” said Patin, who added it’s important for survivors to know there are options and they’re not alone.

Patin also encouraged survivors to delete the conversation they have after they text the hotline number so their abuser doesn’t see it.

She said they had three people use the text service over the weekend, but they’re hoping for more.

The Hubbard House’s 24-hour Textline is 904-210-3698, and its Hotline is 904-354-3114.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If it’s not safe for you to call, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, another option for getting direct help is to use the live chat service on the National Domestic Violence’s website. his website. Chat is available 24/7.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.