The number of domestic violence calls in the city of Chicago and the greater Chicago area have seen “a marked increase,” according to figures released by the city and an advocacy group.
“We are seeing a 15% increase in calls in the shelter-in-place time period over the same time period in 2019,” said Amanda Pyron, the executive director of The Network, which works with survivors of domestic violence.
Illinois' stay-at-home order prompted by the coronavirus, Pyron believes, is causing an increase in calls.
In Chicago, according to numbers provided by the city, on March 30, the domestic abuse hotline received 104 calls, the highest daily volume in over a year.
One only needs to look at the increase in text messages to understand the gravity.
From March 21 to April 22, 2019, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline received five text messages, according to figures provided by The Network. In 2020, in the same time frame, the number was 118, an increase of over 2,000-percent.
“A 2,000% increase is stunning,” Pyron said. “But it just shows the risk victims are in when you can’t even make a safe phone call.”
A case in point is the story Pyron told about an incident that happened last week when a woman called seeking help.
“The abuser stormed into the room, snatched the phone, began screaming at her and threw down the phone,” Pyron recounted.
In a time of plague, Pyron said, victims must balance the public health disaster with the risks they face at home.
“We are not used to this type of an environment where the most dangerous place for a victim is the only place they can go,” she said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot get high marks from Pyron.
The city is helping provide for Lyft and Uber rides for those in need, she said, and the state increased funding for emergency housing for abuse victims.
Pyron said she is concerned that after the stay-at-home order is lifted, there will be an even more dramatic increase in calls for help.
Anyone seeking assistance is urged to call the hotline: 1-877-863-6338.