Domestic assaults in some Oklahoma communities on the rise as families told to stay home

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POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – During this time, many say home is the safest place to be, but for some Oklahomans, that’s not the case.

Several law enforcement agencies are reporting domestic violence cases are on the rise with more people staying home.

“That’s the first thing we talked about, domestic violence cases going up,” said Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth.

He said this past March, deputies saw 20 more domestic violence calls than March 2019.

“Getting mad, tempers flaring, then get a little carried away,” Booth said.

Del City Police witnessing an uptick in their domestic crime calls, and it’s the same story in Oklahoma City, where officers responded to 320 more cases this March compared to the same time last year.

Not every agency News 4 questioned reported a change, including the Midwest City Police Dept., Garvin County Sheriff’s Office, and Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office.

However, advocates from victim services programs across Oklahoma say they have also seen the numbers rise.

“Some of the programs across the state have seen a definite increase in victims and survivors seeking services,” said Brandon Pasley, senior director of specialized training at the YWCA.

Pasley said the stress of this stay-at-home situation mostly aggravates behavior that already existed.

“We typically don’t see people who were never abusive suddenly becoming abusive because they’re social distancing and they’re locked up in a house together,” Pasley said.  “It’s just that all of these dynamics add fuel to a fire that’s already burning.”

He wants to let victims know that the programs to help them are still operational amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and that anyone in fear shouldn’t hesitate to call for help.

“Even if you don’t want to come to shelter, even don’t want to leave,” Pasley said, “if you don’t feel safe, our advocates are available around the clock.”

Sheriff Booth said he hopes people keep in mind that this crisis is temporary.

“Working together to get through this is what’s important,” Booth said. “So you don’t want to make a mistake and make a decision right now that’s going to affect you later on.”

The Oklahoma Safeline can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-SAFE (7233). More resources for victims of abuse or people in fear can be found on the YWCA OKC website or the Attorney General’s website.

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