Domestic violence on the rise as quarantine is extended

For a while now, we've continued to push the message that we all need to be staying inside our homes to stay safe, but what does that mean for someone whose home life is anything but safe?

"It’s very scary, and just thinking about how much more stressful it would’ve been for me if I was still in that relationship with all of this going on," says domestic violence survivor and victim's advocate Markie Williams.

Williams is someone who now embodies strength in every way. She's used her story as a powerful platform on her podcast to advocate and help others. She, like so many other survivors, knows that this time of quarantine is disastrous for victims.

"The abuse was all encompassing, I mean physical, mental, emotional, sexual, financial-every form of abuse you can imagine, and it was everyday and it, that was my life, 24/7, there was very little escape."

Markie says isolation was a tool her abuser and so many others use to control victims, but COVID-19 has taken isolation to a whole other level.

"Anything that might’ve been an outlet for that victim or an escape for the abuse has pretty much all been taken away during the quarantine, so that's concerning because there's really no escape."

Markie also worries about how abuse is likely spiking with abusers and victims now together so often, and under stressful conditions, can make an already violent person even more so.

"It’s literally just a petrifying fear of when is the next attack going to happen?"

These are all concerns that law enforcement and domestic violence experts have more and more as quarantine continues to be extended.

"Hearing that message of stay safe, stay home can be really isolating and quite terrifying for people experiencing abuse," says Kelly Starr of the Washington State Coalition against Domestic Violence. "As the amount of time that people are spending inside their home increases, simultaneously the options available to them are decreasing-so that combination really worries us."

Local law enforcement is already seeing an increase in domestic violence. Bellevue PD says there's been a 14% increase, Seattle Police have seen a 21% increase. Other agencies haven't seen much of a reported difference yet, but are concerned for what's to come.

"Some of our programs are saying they’re experiencing an increase in calls, and a lot are saying they haven’t seen that but are preparing for it, so it’s really important to let folks know that resources are available. "

While many things are shut down right now, resources for domestic violence locally and nationally are still operating, and ready to help. If you can't safely make a phone call, tools like the 24 hour National Domestic Violence Hotline allow you to send a message or text. But perhaps one of the most important resource for those being abused right now is all of us, helping to break down the isolation.

"It's really statistically impossible that we don't all know someone who's experiencing this."

Kelly Starr says sending a simple message asking how someone is doing can make a significant difference, something survivor Markie Williams agrees with.

"Some could be at risk for losing hope, and depending on their situation they may even be questioning if their life matters, and so helping keep them off that ledge and instill some hope for them during this time is really really important."