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A Helping Hand for WI Domestic-Violence Survivors, Post-Pandemic

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- In Wisconsin and across the country, there's been a spike in domestic-violence reports during the pandemic.

Since lockdowns have eased now, advocates for survivors say policymakers should look toward providing more avenues to escape dangerous situations.

Monique Minkens, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, said data is still being collected on the full effect of the pandemic, but cited a Journal-Sentinel report on Milwaukee police data showing an 8% increase in domestic-abuse cases in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same time last year.

"It was really isolating," Minkens explained. "And so, I think that people really did go underground, and there are probably more that we don't know about because of the pandemic."

An annual report from the National Network to End Domestic Violence provides a snapshot of daily service demands for all states. In Wisconsin last fall, 234 requests for help were not met because programs lacked resources.

Minkens argued it underscores the need for more affordable housing and economic stability, so people at risk have the freedom to leave if they need to.

The same report recommends more funding for domestic-violence programs, so they can better meet survivors' needs.

Minkens added the pandemic laid bare many disparities, which was definitely the case for those who couldn't access help from either friends or family, or traditional services.

"We started realizing that the same people that were getting left behind pre-pandemic, it was compounded during the pandemic," Minkens observed.

She said her group wants to take a holistic approach to better serve people in groups that have been historically marginalized.

At the U.S. level, the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice said domestic-violence incidents rose by nearly 8% during lockdowns.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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