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Domestic violence cases on the rise in Niagara County during COVID-19 outbreak

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Posted at 10:20 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 10:22:17-04

NIAGARA COUNTY (WKBW) — Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek says domestic violence cases in the county have significantly increased compared to the same time period last year.

Wojtaszek says the increase coincides with the COVID-19 outbreak and officials urging people to stay home.

From the start of 2020 to April 6, there has been nearly 100 more domestic violence cases compared to the same time period in 2019, according to Niagara County officials.

“Sheriff Filicetti and I recently evaluated the number of domestic violence arrests,” said Wojtaszek. “According to our numbers, domestic violence arrests from January 1, 2019 through April 6, 2019 totaled 674. During that same timeframe this year, the total number of domestic arrests rose to 773, nearly 100 more cases county-wide.”

Wojtaszek says times of intense stress often lead to an increase in domestic violence cases.

“In many households we may have a confluence of events that can include family isolation and social distancing, anxiety over COVID-19, perhaps job loss and other economic stress, home schooling children and so on,” said Wojtaszek. “This can be a very troubling mix that leads to domestic violence.”

In an interview with 7 Eyewitness News in March, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he was bracing for an uptick in domestic violence cases due to COVID-19.

Wojtaszek says violence in the home is not just physical and includes verbal, emotional, financial, physical, sexual, and animal abuse.

“For any individual or family who may be struggling or experiencing violence in the home, I want you to know that you are not alone,” said Wojtaszek. “In addition to law enforcement, it is important for each resident of Niagara County to know that there are many support agencies that continue to be available to you. Shelters and housing also remain available during this health crisis.”

If you, or someone you know, needs help please reach out:

YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline: call or text (716) 433-6716

Pinnacle Community Services for Western New York, 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline: (716) 299-0909

National Domestic Violence Hotline: text “LOVEIS” to 22522 or call 1-800-799-7233