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A pandemic within a pandemic: Domestic violence magnified by pandemic and holidays

Dr. Asim Shah said one out of every four women and one out of every 10 men are victims of intimate partner violence.

HOUSTON — A pandemic within a pandemic. That is how some health experts are describing a surge of domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 crisis.

Heading into the holidays, some fear the abuse will continue to rise.

“The holidays are really pressure-filled. We see an increase not only in domestic violence but we also see an increase in suicides because there is this notion that everybody is happy around the holidays,” Donna Amtsberg, clinical assistant professor at the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work, said.

When you include the effects and stress of the pandemic, Dr. Asim Shah, professor and executive vice chair in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, said domestic violence statistics paint a scary picture.

Shah said one in four women and one in 10 men are victims of intimate partner violence.

“We have seen about 50% more people being affected by domestic violence,” Shah said.

Unfortunately, Shah said calls to domestic violence hotlines have fallen just as much.

“Because of the pandemic, a lot of people are staying home which means the aggressor is also at home. Which again means that they may not be able to call the hotlines to get help,” Shah said.

He said there are always discreet resources available for victims of domestic violence and they should never be ashamed to reach out when they need it most.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

People can also text LOVEIS to 22522.

Another resource is the Crisis Text Line. Victims can text HOME to 741741.

The Houston Area Women’s Center can be reached at 713-258-2121.