Domestic violence reports on the rise since Hurricane Michael

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Domestic violence can affect people of all ages. Authorities say the majority of cases go unreported which leaves room for violence to get out of hand.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, they’ve seen the number of domestic violence cases rise since Hurricane Michael.

It’s’ something they monitor every single day.

Lieutenant Koren Colbert encourages anyone who is or thinks they are a victim of this abuse to report it.

“We read the reports, we look for red flags, indicators of lethality, escalation, and then we look at past history. We look to see if proper charges were placed. Then we look to see if we need to upgrade or increase charges,” said Colbert.

Bay County Sheriff’s Office officials estimate that around 40-50 people are arrested every month for domestic violence.

“We’ve actually had a few cases that we feel like we have actually prevented a homicide.”

Financial reasons, family influences, children, and the threat of divorce can all play a role in the victim not reporting a crime. But, also Hurricane Michael.

“There is a slight uptick in the number of reports and disturbances,” said Colbert.

Officials want to remind residents that there is no judgement passed on these cases they investigate.

“We are going to come, we are going to help,”  said Colbert.

The Sheriff’s Office advises victims that the Salvation Army safe shelter is available if they need immediate assistance with housing.

“We have to call it out for what it is. The only way to change that behavior is hold the abuser accountable,” said Colbert.

They also encourage victims to lean on family of friends in this time of need.

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