Pandemic's financial stressors, isolation complicate picture for domestic violence victims
The crisis line for victims of domestic abuse went eerily quiet during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic when a stay-at-home order was in place for Minnesotans, leaving victims mostly stuck at home with limited options.
“When this all started and the stay-at-home order was put in place, we saw a dramatic decrease in people reaching out,” said Sara Neidecker-Schoo, a Brown County-based community advocate for the Committee Against Domestic Abuse, a nonprofit serving the nine-county region.
“It was kind of freaky because this does not accurately what’s going on in people’s homes,” she said.
New Ulm Police Chief Dave Borchert said domestic violence calls to his department also dropped during those first few months of the pandemic. Based on his conversations with CADA, school districts and other human services professionals, he suspects the drop was not for lack of incidents but underreporting.
“You would assume those calls would be going up,” Borchert said. “But it was almost like they had turned the dial significantly down. People are at home; they’re not in public. Normally when people get away from their abuser, that’s when things come out.”