RI domestic violence hotline calls up 40% from last year

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The month of April saw a continued increase in phone calls to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s helpline, the nonprofit said Thursday, with nearly 600 callers requesting emergency shelter.

Tonya Harris, the nonprofit’s executive director, said they’ve seen a 40% increase in helpline and hotline calls compared to the same time last year, and more than half of those calls led to housing referrals.

Harris said they’re working with Gov. Gina Raimondo to increase emergency shelter capacity throughout the pandemic.

“Finding a safe place to go has been a barrier for many victims and their children in their journey to safety, long before COVID-19, and these obstacles have been magnified by the current pandemic,” Harris said in a statement. “We are grateful to the governor and her team for working with us to meet survivors’ urgent needs during these unprecedented times.”

The expanded shelter service Harris said, “is a temporary solution for a long-term issue.”

“We must invest in lifesaving programs for survivors of domestic violence and their families that provide safety and shelter to victims in their darkest hour,” she said.

Harris said the court advocacy program, which supports domestic violence survivors, has seen a 46% decrease in services this April compared to last year. She said these services have been and are still available throughout the pandemic.

Domestic violence matters – including both temporary and long-term restraining orders, criminal arraignments and emergency child custody interventions – are still being heard at Noel and Garrahy Judicial Complexes.

Anyone who needs assistance can contact the state’s 24/7 hotline at 1-800-494-8100 or visit the RICADV website.

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