Victim advocates worry more abuse, sexual assault could go unreported if there’s a second shutdown

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Domestic violence arrests at the Mahoning County Jail for May, June and July were down by almost 18% from a year ago

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It was something the staff at Compass Family Services in Youngstown noticed from the very start of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown in mid-March — not a single report of domestic violence for 10 days in a row.

“That’s never happened before, in our history,” Jennifer Gray said.

She said although numbers have returned to normal since then, a similar phenomenon was happening at local hospitals when they were closed to all but COVID-19 patients and medical emergencies.

“We weren’t seeing any rape victims in the hospital and we weren’t getting reports of anybody going to the hospital for sexual assaults.”

While the reporting picked up again after hospitals resumed services, Gray wonders what was missed.

“That was scary because we know it wasn’t eradicated. It didn’t disappear,” she said.

Looking a little further, we discovered the pattern occurring at the Mahoning County Jail. Domestic violence arrests for the months of May, June and July were down by almost 18% from the same period a year ago.

Leaders in law enforcement said they noticed a drop in child abuse referrals when schools closed, leaving fewer mandatory reporters, like teachers.

Gray admitted there are growing concerns the same problems could happen again if there is a second shutdown because of the virus.

She said neighbors may need to pay more attention to what’s happening around them.

“You really need to try to create that virtual presence in other people’s lives because other people may really need you.”

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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