The shooting deaths of four teenagers and a 41-year-old in a Milwaukee home on Monday left people feeling heartbroken. Police are still investigating and haven’t released many details, but a suspect with a history of domestic violence charges is in custody.
Milwaukee County officials say there had been an uptick in domestic violence before the COVID-19 pandemic. But as people have been urged to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, cases have been rising.
"We knew pre-COVID we had a state of emergency. Before COVID, we had 13 domestic violence-related homicides, now we’re at 22. Compared to four last year during the same time period," she says.
Pitre says the stress the pandemic has put on food and job security can cause spikes in violence. That same stress may prevent victims from getting away from abuse.
“We’re hearing from survivors now that they’re extremely afraid about their financial future, their ability to feed themselves, to stay in their homes and they have basically put leaving on hold because of that fear of what that future will be like," she explains.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Sojourner Family Center and other facilities that provide shelter and additional services to people living in abusive situations remain open. Their employees have been designated frontline workers.
Resources for domestic violence victims
- Soujourner Family Peace Center’s 24-hour hotline: 414-933-2722
- Milwaukee Women's Center 24-hour domestic violence crisis line: 414-671-6140
- To be placed in shelters or receive additional support call: 211
Online restraining orders
Resources for offenders