45ºF

Domestic violence calls to SAPD spike 21% amid COVID-19 stay-home order

City, county victims services are all still available, including crucial program for school children

SAN ANTONIO – Two weeks ago, as the city and county began urging families to stay home, domestic violence experts told KSAT abuse numbers would spike.

They were right.

On Tuesday, the San Antonio Police Department released numbers showing a 21% increase in family violence calls from 2019 to 2020, year to date. That means Jan. 1 through April 7, 2019 and 2020.

The department said it’s more important now than ever for people to realize victim services are still active. That includes a crucial one for school kids.

SAPD is making a direct connection between the current stress of COVID-19 and spiking family violence numbers.

Battered Women’s Shelter ‘is not closed and will never close,’ CEO assures victims

“There’s no more school. There’s limited child care because employees are being furloughed, and it will just continue to add to the immense amount of financial stress that was already there. And on top of that, communication may not be optimal,” said Alisia Pruneda, public information office for SAPD.

Those communication issues could be softened by SAPD’s Positive Parenting Program, or Triple P. The program gives parents simple strategies to help manage their child’s behavior, build strong healthy relationships and prevent problems from developing.

Officer Pruneda has responded to some of the recent calls for violence or family disturbances.

“Yesterday, I was called to a shooting in progress, and it involved four minors,” she said.

She wants to remind the public that in cases like that, SAPD’s Handle with Care program is still in place.

That program allows police to notify school districts when children are involved in traumatic situations. That way, the teachers and administrators know to take extra care of that student.

New program allows police to notify schools when children experience trauma

“Social workers, counselors and the appropriate staff and administration are alerted,” Pruneda said. “They may not be interacting with the child in person, but video and phone calls are happening.”

Abuse experts know when survivors are confined to the house, it's harder for them to reach out for help.

“But we can’t do anything about it unless they call, someone calls,” Pruneda said. “And sometimes that takes a great act of bravery.”

If survivors find a way to safely make that call, help will be waiting for them.

Many services are online, including the form to file a protective order. Pruneda said you still have to go in and sign the affidavit, but everything else can be handled from a phone or computer.

Those without Internet service are urged to call SAPD’s non-emergency number, (210) 207-7273, the Bexar County Family Justice Center at (210) 631-0100, or Family Violence Prevention Services at (210) 733-8810. That way, someone can lead you through the process.

A full list of resources for survivors and family members can be found at www.ksat.com/domesticviolence.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT:


About the Authors: