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'No escape': Survivor warns of stay-at-home order's impact on domestic violence victims

Posted at 11:19 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 23:23:36-04

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — For millions of Floridians, the pandemic lockdown is an important way to help flatten the curve. But some fear the statewide stay-at-home order is having a troubling impact on survivors of domestic violence.

"As a victim, you’re having to weigh your health safety or your life safety," said Mindy Murphy, with The Spring of Tampa Bay.

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ABC Action News requested the number of domestic violence-related calls for service from seven Tampa Bay area agencies.

All but two departments have seen fewer calls or about the same amount of calls since the start of a statewide stay-at-home order compared to the same time last year.

"If you can find an opportunity to do so, we are still open 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Murphy. "We’re still providing safe, emergency shelter, we still have attorneys helping file injunctions for protection."

Survivors and advocates worry incidents are likely going unreported as virus-related isolation reduces privacy in a household and opportunity for victims seeking an escape from their abuser.

Courntey Weil spent more than two years trying to escape from her abuser. She hopes people in need of help will find a way to make a potentially life-saving phone call.

"I can’t imagine what people are feeling like right now with absolutely no escape, absolutely no way to leave the house and go rebuild yourself and feel like you can stand on your own two feet again," said Weil.

The Spring of Tampa Bay operates a 24-hour crisis hotline at (813) 247-7233.