EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we operate. A lot of us are working in the comfort of our homes. These stay-at-home orders could be life or death situations for domestic violence victims, while they are stuck inside the house with their abuser.

“This is a prime opportunity for an abuser to execute some of their power,” said SafeHomes Executive Director Aimee Hall.

Non-essential businesses and other places have changed operations to help flatten the coronavirus outbreak. With no places for people to go, domestic violence programs and shelters are expecting an increase in domestic violence 9-1-1 calls.

“A lot of businesses have furloughed, eliminated hours, or closed their doors,” said Hall. “A lot of times, that would be a safe place for a victim to go.”

Hall warns, being isolated in the house, loss of jobs and financial insecurities could lead to more abuse. Children also could be in harm’s way.

“I’ve read some articles where it said this a coronavirus pandemic,” said Child Enrichment Inc. Executive Director Kari Viola-Brooke. “I also read it could become a child abuse pandemic.”

Viola-Brooke says Child Enrichment Inc. had 22 child abuse allegation cases last week. She says there is a decrease in child abuse reports going to the state hotline. However, the problem she believes is kids not having access to mandated reporters, since the school system mainly reports the abuse.

“When I hear across the country, there is a decrease in mandated reporters reporting child abuse cases; that’s extremely alarming to other people who work in this field and me,” explained Viola-Brooke. “Because we know that all of a sudden, coronavirus came and kids aren’t abuse anymore; that’s not happening.”

During these times of uncertainty, those experiencing domestic violence may face even more challenges.

“There are so many people who are getting to work at home right now, but Safe Homes is still operating,” said Hall. “We are still a resource for victims, and we are still 24-7.”

Hall and Viola-Brooke add we as a community need to be aware of domestic violence and child abuse. If the pandemic prolongs, prevention program worried the abuse cases would increase.

SafeHomes of Augusta Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

Child Enrichment Inc. Hotline: (706) 737-4631