Domestic violence reports on the rise in Lake County during lockdown
Reports of domestic violence in Lake County have shot up during the stay-at-home order, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is encouraging those in danger or those who notice others at risk to seek assistance.
Officials from A Safe Place, the largest domestic violence nonprofit in Lake County, reported this week that calls to its 24-hour crisis hotline have risen from an average 14 per week this time last year to about 100. And the number of clients needing emergency shelter has doubled.
Pat Davenport, the organization's CEO, said 65 clients per day are being served at the group's emergency shelter, but she estimates the need is far greater.
"We have been prioritizing 'life' clients, meaning if a client's life is in danger per law enforcement and public health records, and they are actively fleeing, we are taking them in," Davenport said. "If we had the funding to take in all domestic violence victims at this time, we would be providing hotel shelter to over 180 clients."
One client required hospitalization after being beaten by a partner convinced the victim was trying pass along COVID-19, officials said.
Sgt. Christopher Covelli said the sheriff's office has seen a 3% increase in domestic disturbance calls from April 2019 to April 2020 and a 21% increase in domestic disturbance calls from March 2019 to March 2020.
Laura Sabino, the executive director of Libertyville-based Lake County Haven, a nonprofit that runs a shelter for up to 10 people, said while the numbers there haven't increased, it's probably because those now seeking help are calling A Safe Place.
"We are certainly seeing the vulnerability of women and children during this pandemic," Sabino said. "We focus on mental health, which is in great peril now."
Pritzker said at one of his daily news briefings last week that for those experiencing domestic violence, staying home is often not the safest option.
"Domestic violence is everyone's business," he said. "It's more important than ever to look out for your neighbors."
Pritzker said the state's Department of Human Services will provide enhanced support for domestic violence victims during the pandemic. He encouraged people to use Illinois' free and confidential Domestic Violence hotline at (877) 863-6338.
The 24-hour crisis line provided by A Safe Place is (800) 600-7233.
Davenport also encouraged residents to look for signs of abuse in those they know.
"It's important to recognize abuse happens among all income levels, ethnic groups and all cultures, all ages, all faiths and all education levels," Davenport said. "Now more than ever, it's important we all work to protect our neighbors."