HOUSTON – The city of Houston has launched a new domestic violence awareness campaign Wednesday.
While trying to fallen the curve of COVID-19 cases in the community, local law enforcement and the Houston Area Women’s Center have seen an uptick in domestic violence cases.
The Houston Police Department reported an increase of 8.72% in domestic violence calls in March compared to February 2020. The president of the Houston Area Women’s Center, Emilee Whitehurst, said that they have seen the rise as well.
“We have seen a 40% spike in our domestic violence calls and of those calls, more people are asking for shelter. I worry about the people who aren’t calling,” Whitehurst said.
On Tuesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a partnership with the Houston Area Women’s Center and the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council to provide more awareness and resources to those in need.
Turner said that just because people are staying at home, doesn’t mean that they should be in dangerous situations.
“The message is very clear, the coronavirus, COVID-19 does not give anyone permission to engage in domestic violence," he said
City and county leaders have partnered to roll out more resources on a new website.
The city addressed the need for short-term hotel lodging since shelters have had to reduce the numbers due to social distancing. A $50,000 grant from Uber will also provide ride services for people seeking help.
Whitehurst said that in the next 10 days, they will offer a feature on the website that will allow people to live chat with someone if they are need of help or support.
Whitehurst reiterated that they don’t want people to not leave a dangerous situation just because they are concerned about the virus.
“I want you to know the shelters in this region are practicing all of the precautions. They are practicing social distancing, these are safe places for you to go. Living with an abuser may not be,” Whitehurst said.