How holidays plus pandemic impact domestic abuse case numbers in the Lowcountry

VIDEO: Identifying Domestic Violence During Pandemic Holidays

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The leader of a Lowcountry nonprofit that fights domestic abuse says the pandemic has left more people isolated, increasing the risk for warning signs of abuse to stay behind closed doors.

Tosha Connors, CEO of domestic violence shelter and hotline My sister’s house, says the non-profit has seen an increase in calls during the pandemic as more people stay home.

“We’ve seen a lot of people who have suffered emotional and verbal abuse for several months or several years, and then with Covid the physical abuse is intensifying, or is increasing or it is happening in relationships that have never happened in it before,” Connors said.

Despite this, Connors says victims may be more inclined to stay in their situations during the holiday season.

“Sometimes it’s really difficult for victims to choose to leave during this time, Connors said. “It’s certainly been compounded by Covid happening and people just really being isolated from their support system.

Yearly statistics from the South Carolina Attorney General show domestic violence victims who were killed last year ranged from 18 to 83 years old and 86 percent of them were women.

As the pandemic keeps more people at home, Connors says critical warning signs could be missed.

“We know that most of the communication that happens is nonverbally and you can’t see that person face-to-face it makes it very challenging and very difficult,” Connors said.

This year, a phone call could mean so much more.

“We hear a lot of victims who call and who write to us over the holidays,” Connors said. “We’ve had several over the past few days. They are just reaching out because they need a friend, they need a support, they need a kind word.”

The non-profit expects another uptick in cases following the new year.

“Oftentimes we will see an uptick after the holidays so once everybody’s had their feel-good moments, they’ve been together, maybe they stayed together for Christmas for the kids and that’s over,” Connors said.

More information on My Sister’s House can be found on their website. People can also call the 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-273-4673.

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