NJ domestic violence reports continue spike since pandemic lull
New statistics suggest that incidents of domestic violence continue to be occurring at a higher pace than usual across the Garden State.
As expected by advocates for survivors, reports of domestic abuse hit a snag at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but spiked as restrictions eased and victims had more opportunities to seek help.
Today, groups continue working to help survivors and their families — those who've been willing to pick up the phone — navigate their next moves.
"The numbers are still high, we're still getting a lot of calls," said Mira Moreno, director of programs at Center for Hope and Safety in Rochelle Park.
In 2021, calls to the center's 24/7 hotline totaled more than 7,500, representing a 23% increase over 2020. The center's 2021 program statistics point to "record high incidents of domestic violence," the group said.
STATEWIDE HELPLINE: 1-800-572-SAFE
Among domestic violence programs that receive funding through the Department of Children and Families, there was a 37% increase in hotline calls in 2021, compared to 2020, according to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence. And there was a 53% jump in the number of sheltered victims.
"The time that's needed to serve each client, and the number of services that each client needs, has also grown," said Nicole Morella, the coalition's director of policy and education. "And in some cases, because of that increased need, we now also have waiting lists."
The coalition is advocating for additional funding for victim services in the next state budget; they're also focused on creating more affordable housing opportunities.
According to Morella, hundreds of families are living in hotels across New Jersey, with no permanent housing lined up.
Center for Hope and Safety noted that many survivors "have to summon a lot of courage" in order to make their initial call to a service provider.
"Even if you're not ready to leave, we're still here to talk to you," Moreno said.
Beyond initial services, the center offers help with survivors' "relaunch," including career counseling and financial workshops.