INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence has reported the number of deaths related to domestic violence has increased in our state by 86% compared to this time last year. A rate, forensic nurse Julie Morrison can attest to.
“For me, just actually in the hospital, I still worry about the increase in violence that’s really just kind of a pressure cooker right now. It really is,” says Morrison.
A forensic nurse at IU Health Methodist Hospital, Morrison — like other advocates — were worried about how the pandemic would impact ongoing domestic violence.
“At the end of March with the stay at home, we knew something bad is going to happen,” she says. “Because people in abusive situations, at least they had that reprieve maybe when the abuser went to work.”
As job loss, health concerns over the virus, kids at home and not in school, all collided, “Kind of all the factors that worsen domestic violence or intimate partner violence just exacerbated by this pandemic,” says Morrison. “The same kind of things. Financial insecurity, losing jobs. And we knew this was going to be potentially bad with people being stuck at home together.”
Whereas people were not coming to the hospital in the beginning of the pandemic, she says, “At the end of March when the stay at home orders first started, we saw 46 assault patients. Looking back at 2019, we saw 71.”
She says they are now coming in droves. Methodist Hospital is seeing a significant spike in cases from last year and a large increase since March alone.
“For me and Silent No More, it has been a drastic increase in calls and services that are needed,” agrees Danyette Smith, founder of “Silent No More.”
Non-profits like Silent No More and emergency shelters are working double-time to find people safe housing. But doing so with limited resources, as shelters operate at limited capacity because of COVID.
“It’s been extremely tough. And as a survivor, I just don’t know how I would’ve been able to do it if I didn’t have an organization who is open,” says Smith. “9 times out of 10 I would’ve stayed just because the resources are so scarce.”
As the need only increases and situations become direr, Smith says, “To those victims, try to keep them encouraged as much as possible. Know that there are survivors out here they’re willing to work with you and working through that experience with you so that you know you’re not alone.”