Valley domestic abuse calls spiking during COVID-19 pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Valley nonprofits are seeing a growing need for food and shelter, the valley's safe haven for victims of abuse is seeing a rise in calls.

Marjaree Mason Center Executive Director Nicole Linder says they've seen a 30% increase in calls to service.

"All of us had been experiencing tremendous growth in terms of needs of service prior to COVID-19, and all that's done is exacerbate it," Linder said.

Linder says it's easy to feel the stress of health and financial uncertainty.

"When you add and multiply that to an environment where there are control, power and abuse, it escalates that. We want people to do self-checks."

Fresno Police share the sentiment. Sgt. Jeff LaBlue says though overall crime is down, they've seen roughly 10 more domestic violence calls per week.

"Get some air, find some space, its important in de-escalating a situation," Sgt. LaBlue said.

Meathead Movers works exclusively with the Marjaree Mason Center to identify and move abuse victims out of their home, free of charge.

"We run the Marjaree Mason screening and safety protocol, and we come and do the moving for free," said CEO Aaron Steed.

Steed says they've already done 20 moves for Marjaree Mason clients this year, and they're anticipating more as tensions rise during the COVID-19 crisis.

"We're all in this together as a community, and i think we all need to figure out ways to be kind to our neighbors and do the right thing and we'll get through this," Steed said.

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, or you know someone who is, there is help available 24/7. In Fresno County, call the Marjaree Mason Center at (559) 233-4357. In all other locations, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.

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