As places closed for the pandemic, many of us stayed and are still staying home to be safe — but home isn't always the safest place to be for domestic violence victims.

What You Need To Know

  • More domestic violence cases are being reported in Oneida and Onondaga counties
  • Organizations helping victims have established web chats
  • Not all cases are reported, so it's likely more are taking place

"We saw a significant bump in April. We saw a similar bump in May, and then once the phases started kicking in, when things started to reopen, we then saw the opposite happen. The decline was much less than the initial bump, but still, there was a decline," said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.

People who help domestic violence victims knew stay-at-home directions, mixed with stresses caused by the pandemic, would likely lead to more cases — but they had another concern: how will victims safely seek help?

"It's not always safe to make a phone call when you're at home with an abuser," said Vera House, Inc. Director of Marketing and Communications Chris Benton.

Some organizations have new, possibly more discreet options for victims to seek help, and those options are being used.

"A lot of people are reaching out now through our text and chat line. I'm so glad we were able to launch that, especially right now, where people are possibly trapped at home with an abuser and making a voice call just isn't possible," said YWCA Mohawk Valley CEO Dianne Stancato.

The YWCA Mohawk Valley launched its text service to help victims on June 1, and has already received more than 110 texts, and more than 190 messages on its web chat service.

"Those are startling numbers because you would think that we would just have a few, right? It's a new service, but it's really growing, and I'm glad that we're able to provide that service," Stancato said.

While law enforcement is receiving more domestic violence reports than last year, the Oneida County sheriff believes even more victims would be filing reports if they weren’t afraid to – a fear he partially attributes to New York’s new criminal justice reform laws.

Also, many victims do not report their cases.