Coronavirus impacts domestic violence cases in Prince George’s County and beyond

Circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are only adding to the nightmare for domestic violence victims.

Some places in the DMV are seeing cases start to surge.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy says petitions for domestic violence restraining orders are ballooning, though her office is still working on exact numbers.

“What we know is there has been a significant spike in the number of petitions being requested,” Braveboy said.

There are many factors that make this an especially awful time for domestic violence victims. Many are isolated with their partner and cut off from family and friends. People seem to be drinking more, some have lost jobs, plus there can be added stress with kids at home all day.

Jessica Volz, director of the forensic medical unit at Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, said she is seeing more brutal injuries in domestic violence and child abuse victims. She said the number of patients is actually down, likely because people are fearful of exposure to coronavirus.

In D.C., a crisis hotline for victims called D.C. Safe has been overwhelmed.

“We have tripled the number of advocates on our response line,” said Natalia Otero, executive director of D.C. Safe. “We have additional advocates that are able to do longer-term support for survivors. We still have advocates going out into the community.”

She said there’s not an increase in callers, but new hurdles because of the pandemic for call takers to get victims services they need. You can reach the hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC.

The message from everyone FOX 5 spoke with is that help is still out there.

”We are still here for our victims,” said Braveboy. “Our offices might be closed, but the work is still happening. And if you are a victim, please don’t suffer in silence.”

Braveboy’s office has created this infographic for those needing help.