Local and state leaders have told everyone to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak to further prevent the spread of the virus. For some in our communities, that could mean more time in the very place where they are subject to domestic abuse.
"Isolation, which is a big tool of the abuser, is also now what is being recommended for public health reasons, so people are feeling stuck and scared. This is just taking a bad situation and making it worse and potentially making it more dangerous," said Kirsten Rambo, Executive Director of Stand Strong in San Luis Obispo County.
According to San Luis Obispo County officials, law enforcement agencies are receiving more calls in regards to domestic violence disputes as survivors are now forced to shelter where their abuse takes place.
"I know this is a stressful time for everybody, and I understand we are seeing an increase in domestic violence calls this month compared to the previous March," said Wade Horton, County Administrative Officer for San Luis Obispo County.
Jan Campbell of Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County said they continue to receive a steady number of calls, but unfortunately, the current pandemic has created favorable conditions for an abuser.
"The weather plays a huge role in domestic violence situations. The financial situation of people plays a big role. Panic and fear create anxiety which feeds into domestic violence as well. We've been pretty steady on our calls," Campbell said.
While safety measures and orders have changed the way these organizations go about helping victims and survivors, they say they are still operating and ready to assist.
According to Rambo, a rise in domestic violence has also been seen across the globe as a result of the pandemic and it's something they are preparing for on the Central Coast.
"It is something we definitely expect to see because it has happened in every other place so far that the pandemic has hit," Rambo said.
Still, there are those ready to help.
"People think, 'how am I ever going to do this?' but it's kinda like running a marathon. You do it one step at a time and we have support along the way," Campbell said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, there are resource organizations still operating and ready to help.
You can call Stand Strong in San Luis Obispo County at (805) 781-6400 or Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County at (805) 964-5245.
Click here to learn more about Stand Strong.
Click here to learn more about Domestic Violence Solutions.