Domestic violence and the impact of the pandemic

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An organization that offers emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence is helping more people as the pandemic slows down.

The Children’s Inn has 40 beds. The Operations Director says for the past six years the shelter has been running at or over capacity a majority of the time.

However, there was a bit of a change when the pandemic first hit the area.

While the Children’s Inn crisis line was busier last year, there was a bit of a dip in people using the shelter.

Operations Director Amy Carter says one reason behind the decrease was the use of fear by abusers.

“So often in an abusive relationship there’s that threat and that fear, and so during the pandemic that was even greater where it was, ‘If you leave me, you’re going to get sick or you’re going to make our children sick,” Children’s Inn operations director Amy Carter said.

Carter says people were also reluctant to go to a shelter during a pandemic.

Now, more than a year has gone by since COVID was first reported in South Dakota.

“We aren’t really completely back to what we consider our normal numbers, which is being over capacity, but we’re starting to get more to that capacity level of 35-45 people a day,” Carter said.

The Sioux Falls Police Department provided 285 referrals to domestic violence shelters and services last year, which is higher than the past three years.

“Domestic violence often goes unseen and so for the past year, I wouldn’t say it wasn’t happening, right? It definitely was happening, but the availability and opportunity for victims to be heard and to come forward was lessened as they kind of worked through the isolation of the pandemic,” Sioux Falls Police Department Lt. Jon Thum said.

Lt. Thum and Carter both want people to know there is help available.

“We know the people are out there. We know they need help, and so we want them to come to us. We want them to know our shelter is safe and there are people who can help,” Carter said.

Children’s Inn recently broke ground on a new facility that will have more than double the number of beds.

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