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Domestic violence shelters filling up as need for help grows during pandemic

Members of law enforcement are also responding to more domestic violence calls.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Right now, Bethany House Domestic Violence shelter is full.

“Since the stay-at-home orders lifted and people were starting to move about a little bit more, our numbers have been going up as far as people reaching out for help,” Bethany House Executive Director Deidra Lashley said.

That is consistent with what members of law enforcement are seeing as well.
Officers at the Perrysburg Township Police Department have seen a significant increase in the number of domestic violence calls they've responded to since the pandemic started.

“A department our size, we've had an increase in domestic violence, we've had 67 domestic violence calls since the pandemic started, which is considerably more than a department our size is used to handling,” Perrysburg Township Police Department Sgt. Todd Curtis said.

While those numbers have been consistent for law enforcement throughout the pandemic, many shelters were not getting calls right when everything shut down.

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“The first couple months of the shutdown or everything and the stay-at-home order, our crisis call numbers were down. But we heard from law enforcement their numbers were way up," Lashley said.

Lashley added this could be because victims were confined solely to their homes, afraid to reach out. She said it's important for those who may think someone is in trouble to check in with them frequently and encourage them to get help.

Another challenge Bethany House is currently working through is making sure families who are living with them have what they need. The shelter is housing a number of children right now, who are learning virtually.

“Virtual learning is definitely something we are adjusting to, making sure parents feel supported in taking that on, making sure we have the capacity with our WiFi," Lashley said.

If you're interested in helping local shelters, refer to the links below:

Bethany House

YWCA

Cocoon Shelter

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