The worst fears of domestic violence experts are being realized: the coronavirus lockdown has led to a double digit increase in domestic violence around the country as many shelters are either understaffed or closed.
One mother of three was allegedly gunned down by her estranged husband after he claimed to have been exposed to COVID-19. Her family believes it may have been a ploy to clear out the house so she'd be alone. They are now raising money for her memorial and children on GoFundMe.
In Florida, fitness coach David Anthony is accused of trying to cover up his estranged wife's disappearance by falsely claiming she'd been hospitalized with COVID-19. He is accused of sending "suspicious text messages" to her friends claiming she was "being held by the CDC" and "on a ventilator."
Police say the woman, Gretchen, is now presumed dead. Her body has not been found.
Their deaths could be part of a growing national trend: a double digit spike in domestic violence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chicago reported a 15% increase in domestic abuse-related 911 calls. Boston reported a 22% jump. New York has seen a surge in the number of visits to the domestic violence resource website "NYC HOPE," jumping from an average 45 visits to 115 visits per day.
Ariel Zwang is CEO of Safe Horizon, the largest domestic violence services organization in the United States.
"With people in the house under terrible stress, stress about their health, stress about the economy, we know that's a recipe for more volatility and more difficult situations at home," Zwang said.
She wants people experiencing domestic violence to know they're not alone.
"One of the misconceptions is that help is not available to people who are stuck in their homes and that is not true," she said. "So we encourage people to reach out for help."
If you or someone you know needs help, you can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, chat online on www.thehotline.org, or text "loveis" to 22522.