Willow CEO: Domestic violence calls up 50% since March, calls more intense


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Willow Domestic Violence Center saw a spike in calls to its hotline back at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said calls have continued to increase since then while people have been quarantined inside.

Meaghan de Chateauvieux is the CEO of Willow said the calls to their hotline are up 50% since the beginning of the pandemic. She also said the calls are more intense.

“People are calling us in situations that are actually quite dangerous and they need that immediate crisis support, where before it might’ve been a call like, ‘I think something’s going on, I’m not sure I need some support,’ and safety planning and now it’s like, ‘I’m going to leave now, I need to figure this out,'” she said.

Chateauvieux said even though calls are up she’s more concerned about the people who are in dangerous situations due to isolation from the pandemic but aren’t calling.

“When you’re in an abusive relationship, stuck at home on the couch with this person who may be feeling a loss of control over everything in their lives, and we’re hearing from survivors that abusive partners are actually ramping up that control over them, so that’s where I think some of the escalation is coming from.”

Chateauvieux said with domestic violence month being in October and right around the corner, Willow wants to help those who still don’t feel safe enough to call for help. She suggests checking in on friends and neighbors during this time.

“As a friend talking to a friend or to someone else in your life, I would really strongly suggest you resist the temptation to say, ‘you gotta leave now, you gotta get out of here, you don’t need to put up with this,’ all those things we want to say try to rescue someone that can really backfire for us because the individual needs to make those choices for themselves.”

Willow will be posting a virtual tool kit for domestic violence awareness month and they’ll also be hosting a virtual walk to honor survivors of domestic violence.

She also wants everyone to know the Willow hotline is 222-SAFE and it’s open 24/7 for help ranging from counseling to shelter.

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