PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Domestic violence hotline calls increased by 30% during the pandemic, according to a director at the Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria.
Frances Reyes, director of domestic violence family-centered services at the Center for Prevention of Abuse, said the center received more than 10,000 hotline calls in 2020. She said they served more than 6,000 people last year, including 350 in the shelter.
She said the pandemic had a dramatic effect on domestic violence cases, with many calling the hotline for the first time.
“There’s a stressor in the home, an individual likely lost their job, loss of income, increases stress. So as a result of that, we have seen more individuals reaching out to us for services because they’ve never experienced this before,” Reyes said. “Mandates to stay at home, restrictions like that, have fueled these abusive situations in some individuals who never experienced it or maybe have not experienced it quite to the level that they are currently are now experiencing it.”
Reyes said its important to learn the signs of an abusive relationship because domestic violence often occurs behind closed doors.
“It’s important to educate not just the individuals who are going through the abusive relationship, but their loved ones, their friends, any of their support system. It would be really beneficial to know the signs, to help point that out,” she said.
She said one in three women, and one in four men, will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. On average, individuals return to their abusive partners seven times before leaving for the final time.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the Center’s Hotline at 1-800-559-SAFE.