Updated: September 28, 2020 07:52 PM
Created: September 28, 2020 07:48 PM
(ABC 6 News)-- It is unclear exactly why domestic violence cases are rising in the Rochester area, but officials said the increase happened along with the pandemic. According to Captin Casey Moilanen with the Rochester Police Department, in 2019, 262 domestic violence cases were reported. This year 341 cases have been reported.
"We are seeing abusers snap quicker, and snap harder," said Laura Sutherland, the Program Manager of Victim's services in Olmsted County.
Since March some households have been forced to quarantine together, making it more difficult for victims to leave an unhealthy or unsafe situation. Women's shelter youth programming Director Jeannie Thompson said they are not necessarily seeing an increase in calls, but definitely an increase in protection orders being issued.
The shelter houses both men and women and collaborates with victim's services and the police department to offer resources or support to those victims.
"We'll support them all the way from say filing the initial police report, through charging and ultimately through a trial if it should go forward to that point," said Sutherland.
Through that partnership, officials are looking at ways to make households and relationships safer in this community. With just a phone call to the police department or the crisis hotline, victims can state the first step to making an exit plan. One of the most important factors for leaving an abuser safely, according to Thompson.
"Leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim. The six weeks before they leave and the six weeks after. If we can meet with the victim and find out all of the details about their situation, we can help them come up with a safety plan," she said.
Although the state of Minnesota does track those with domestic assault convictions and charges, domestic abusers are not always as easy to identify.
"They don't go around punching people on the street," said Jeannie. " They are charming and selective with their victims."
Olmsted County District attorney Mark Ostrem said he wishes there was a better way to identify and prevent domestic violence from happening in the community.
"Sometimes I wish somebody would wear one of those sandwich boards and have to walk around you know and let people know what they've been up to, but I don't see that happening," he said.
Sutherland said research shows it takes victims up to seven times before they build the courage to leave their abuser. She said resources, and advocates in the community will be waiting to support and help those looking to leave whenever they are ready.
Copyright 2020 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company