Idaho Domestic Violence Hotline Sees Spike In Calls
Nationally, the domestic abuse hotline has seen an uptick in calls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and that trend is reflected across the Mountain West.
In Idaho, for example, the Women and Children's Alliance saw a 194% increase in calls to its domestic violence hotline in April, according to the group's communications director, Chris Davis.
"There are a lot of people who are in situations that are really quickly getting much worse," Davis said. "They're isolated from friends and family, they're isolated from coworkers, they don't have access to their support networks."
The Boise-based nonprofit is seeing an increased demand for emergency shelter as well, Davis said. At the same time, the pandemic has hit the organization financially, forcing it to permanently close a thrift store that funds operations. Donors can still buy supplies for victims staying at emergency shelters, but they have to come from Amazon.
A particular challenge in the Mountain West are its vast rural areas.
"We have areas of this region that are really hard to reach," said Ruth Glenn, chief executive of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, based in Denver. "So if you're a survivor that is trying to reach safety, and you've made up your mind that you want to reach safety, how do you best go about that?"
Victims may have difficulty reporting their abusers during the pandemic, because abusers may be monitoring phone or internet activity, and victims may not have access to friends and families who can help them escape, Glenn said.
"At the end of that we may see a much larger spike because those victims and survivors will be safer reporting at that time – if they're safe at all," she said.
To reach the Idaho domestic abuse hotline, call 208-343-7025.
To reach the national domestic violence hotline, call 1-800-799-7233.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.