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Abuse numbers rise as people continue to shelter in place during pandemic

Both domestic violence and child abuse numbers have spiked in the U.S. since stay-at-home orders have been set in place.

TEMPLE, Texas — Police departments across the U.S have reported a spike in domestic violence and child abuse cases as stay-at-home orders are set in place.

Experts said the increases, however, are almost for sure under-reported because some victims do not have anywhere to go or the ability to call the police.

Large cities, such as Dallas and Houston, have seen an approximately 20 percent increase in domestic violence calls. Kathy Reid, Executive Director of the Waco Family Abuse Center, said they have not seen that spike, which is concerning.

"We haven't gotten an increase in calls, which is worrisome with domestic abuse," Reid said. "Because that could mean people are trapped in their house with no way to call us or call police."

With the immense stress that is put on families due to the coronavirus, Reid said this is a ticking time bomb for abusive households. 

"I think of it as almost a pressure cooker. People are worried about coronavirus, there is unemployment sometimes, financial struggles," Reid said. "All of that is heat under the kettle and its bound to explode."

Children in abusive households are also at serious risk right now. Since March 17, eight children have been admitted to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth for injuries related to child abuse. Three of those children died. To put that number in perspective, Cook Children’s typically sees six child abuse deaths a year, the hospital said. 

Several resources are available online for those experiencing domestic violence or child abuse. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, call 1-800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 22522, or chat online at thehotline.org. YOU can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

There is also the Texas COVID-19 mental health hotline, the National Child Help Hotline and Texas Youth Crisis Hotline are on stand-by with 24/7 staff.

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