By Marci Creps
While there are concerns about how the current stay-at-home order affects domestic violence, so far, Bloomington police are not seeing a rise in reports.
With the Bloomington Police Department, cases are down over 2019 numbers, according to Capt. Ryan Pedigo.
“For 2020 so far, we have had 115 case reports document domestic violence as defined by state statute. For the same time frame in 2019, we had 143, so we have actually seen a decrease of about 19.6 percent. To narrow it down a little further, for the week of April 1-7, 2020, we have five cases document domestic violence and during that same time period in 2019, we had 14,” Pedigo said in an email.
Other communities have not been so fortunate. Across the globe, there has been a rise in domestic abuse cases since COVID-19.
With social distancing, it can be hard for someone to check on a friend or family member who may be experiencing domestic abuse. As victims are isolated, it can be hard for them to get help. However, with technology, there are ways to use texting or video calls to make sure someone is OK.
“If someone does not feel safe, they should call or text 911 immediately,” Pedigo said. “If they can leave the situation, we strongly suggest they gather their necessary belongings (a few days of clothing, medications, etc.) and leave.”
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women encourages anyone who thinks a friend or family member is experiencing abuse to encourage them to make a safety plan.
In Bloomington, Middle Way house is a resource for victims of domestic violence. The organization can help with securing housing, filing protective orders and other issues that may be needed to keep someone safe. “Middle Way also has options for childcare and can assist victims with that as well,” Pedigo said.
Middle Way has a 24-hour crisis line. The number is 812-336-0846.
On its website, Middle Way House has taken extra precautions due to COVID-19 by cleaning often and asking anyone entering the building to was their hands. Also, employees are asked to say home if sick.
“The demand for MWH services is high and will increase in the coming weeks,” the website states. “Our shelter is already operating at a 50% increase, and with our current community crisis, we expect a further increase of need. We also expect a rise in calls to our crisis line, as many may be stuck at home with their abusers for longer amounts of time.”
The organization is asking for financial support to help provide services to those who need it. Donations can be made on Middle Way’s website at middlewayhouse.org.
While reported crimes and calls for service are down over the past few weeks, Pedigo said police have continued to respond to several calls involving firearms and shots fired, which he deemed “concerning.” He said a majority of those calls have also involved drugs, which is not uncommon. “Firearms and violence have always had a close association with drugs.”