Domestic Violence calls and arrests on the rise in Bay County

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)–Throughout the pandemic, domestic violence has risen around the world and the United Nation has even referred to the trend as a shadow pandemic. With people out of work and spending more time at home, abuse inside the household is becoming more prevalent.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office says the number of domestic violence calls they respond to is rising and they believe many factors are contributing to this trend.

“Over the weekend, every Monday morning a good ⅓ of the reports that come in are on domestic disturbances or domestic violence arrests,” said Lt. Koren Colbert with the Criminal Investigations Division.

Lt. Colbert says it wasn’t always this way. While the Sheriff’s Office says they did see a similar uptick after Hurricane Michael, they accredit the current rise to people spending more time at home and dealing with the financial strain of the pandemic.

“The pressures of homeschooling and now the kids have just gone back to school, it’s a lot of togetherness,” said Lt. Colbert.

The Sheriff’s Office says they’re seeing a lot of new offenders, as well as old ones,” said Lt. Colbert.

“If there’s an escalation pattern that’s brewing and if it is we’ll start making contact and seeing what we could do with these families that we’ve dealt with before,” said Lt. Colbert.

If you believe you’re currently a victim of domestic violence, the Sheriff’s Office encourages you to reach out for help. The Salvation Army and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence both offer hotlines to provide immediate help. The Salvation Army can be reached at 1−800−799−7233 and the FCADV can be reached at 1-800-500-1119.

“Reach out for help they are not alone. There’s a lot of people going through the same thing they are and there are people that are willing to help,” said Lt. Colbert.

It’s also become clear that many victims don’t realize that what they’re experiencing is not normal.

“It is a strategic pattern behavior by one person who is using different tactics to control the other person,” said Lt. Colbert.

To learn what resources are available here locally for domestic violence incidents, you can visit the following links:
http://bayso.org/victim-advocate
https://fcadv.org/
https://salvationarmyflorida.org/panamacity/#programs

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