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Data: Baltimore domestic violence cases soar during pandemic

April 2, 2021 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — Domestic violence incidents have soared in Baltimore during the COVID-19 pandemic, with police reporting a case increase of nearly one-third in the city, according to police department data.

Experts told the Baltimore Sun that isolation, cramped living conditions and financial hardships from the pandemic have made it more difficult for survivors, predominantly women, to seek protection or leave their abusers.

Violent domestic crime in Baltimore has risen 31% year in 2021, increasing from 354 incidents in the first three months of 2020 to 462 in the first three months of this year, police data shows. Reports of domestic aggravated assaults have risen by 35%, from 266 to 359 during the same period.

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“As our department continues to work closely with our partners to connect victims and potential victims to resources, it is vital that we are apprehending those responsible for violent crimes,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a statement.

Janice Miller, director of Survivor Engagement and Stability Services at the House of Ruth Maryland, said its hotline received about 25 calls a day from survivors in need of assistance between March and October, an increase of nearly 20% compared with before the pandemic. The number of people at the House of Ruth’s shelter for survivors and their children increased by about 11%.

“The pandemic really highlighted and exacerbated the issues survivors have dealt with a long time,” Miller said. “We adapted very early on to provide some of those basic needs.”

Amanda Rodriguez, executive director of the Towson-based nonprofit TurnAround, said cases peaked around October, when it received about 800 calls. That was up from 98 calls in October 2019.

“There is a real strain on parents, on individuals, where we are just having to cope with a lot more,” Rodriguez said.