Increase in domestic violence calls during COVID-19

SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - Staying home for Nevada during the COVID-19 crisis may be bringing more attention to domestic and sexual violence.

On a normal day, employees at Safe Embrace are answering calls and providing services to survivors, both men and women, of domestic and sexual abuse. However, these are not normal times.

"In the last two weeks, we've had 60 calls outside of business hours," Jessica Cisneros, Executive Director at Safe Embrace said.

Safe Embrace is a local nonprofit dedicated to providing services and education to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as human trafficking.

"You don't have to come in with a police report, you just self-certify that you're a survivor and you can access services that are free," Cisneros added.

Because of the Coronavirus, more people are staying in or working from home, which can put survivors in an unsafe situation.

"You're not always together, you know sometimes your abuser was leaving to go to work and so you had that time, but now the dynamic has completely changed," Cisneros said.

"We have seen an uptick in domestic violence and DUIs across the county," Chris Crawforth, Deputy Chief with the Sparks Police Department said, "I can't speak for each agency but within Sparks we have."

With jobs on the line, Cisneros says abuse comes in many forms. She added, "A lot of psychological, a lot of emotional, a lot of financial abuse."

The Coronavirus has changed some of the nonprofit's daily operations.

"If we have a survivor that's showing symptoms we have a room specifically that we can quarantine or isolate them in," Cisneros said.

But being isolated with your abuser does not have to become your new normal.

"We are still here," Cisneros added, "We are still providing services, they might look a little bit different but really it's how can you access services from safe embrace in the safest way."

Safe Embrace has a 24-hour crisis hotline available, as well as on site counseling and web chats available for survivors to utilize, even during social distancing.

You can help continue to support the local organization. It's in need of cleaning supplies and non-perishable food donations. Those can be dropped off at the Safe Embrace office located at 780 E. Lincoln Way in Sparks.

You can also donate financially to help pay for hotel rooms for survivors. To do so, just call 775-322-3466, email info@safeembrace.org or click here.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020