A St. Louis nonprofit organization that assists victims of domestic violence says it has seen a big increase in reports in recent months. Executive Director Marti Kelly said she believes the increase is related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kelly runs the Crime Victim Center. Nearly 90% of the organization’s caseload has to do with domestic violence.
“We get copies of the police reports, and we can tell you that in April there was a 225% increase in the county and a 25% increase in the city,” said Kelly on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “The police officers that we spoke to ... believe it’s because people in the county aren’t essential workers as often. They’re staying home, and working with their spouse in a home, instead of going out and leaving every day for work.”
Kelly said there has been an escalation in the types of abuse the staff is seeing as well. She added that the organization’s attorneys, volunteers and counselors are doing the best they can to keep up with the volume.
For St. Louis resident Alexis — identified by first name only due to safety concerns — the Crime Victim Center’s legal help was exactly what she needed to get herself and her newborn son to safety when they were escaping abuse five years ago.
“You can go to a food shelter and get food; you can go to a women’s shelter — those are options out there for everybody,” Alexis said. “But the legal help … is what we needed.”
Crime Victim Center provides free counseling and legal assistance to crime victims. The organization’s staff and stable of volunteers help clients with such matters as orders of protection and custody hearings.
Alexis said the services were invaluable.
“What I went through was hell, needless to say, and I didn’t know what we had ahead of us, for my son and I,” she said. “They did everything they could to help me, and now, four [to] five years later, I own a business, and I own my house and I own my car. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Hear more of Alexis’ story and the impact of the Crime Victim Center in this episode of St. Louis on the Air:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
What: Crime Victim Center Trivia Night
When: 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28
Where: 111 S.- Geyer Road, Kirkwood, MO 63122
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.
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