BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In mid-March CEO Mary Travers Murphy locked up the Family Justice Center offices, but staff continued to work from home.
“Every single day, more calls are coming in,” Travers Murphy said now that people have realized they’re still taking those calls.
Many Western New Yorkers are working from home now that the coronavirus is spreading. Some are even at home after being laid off or furloughed. That’s just the problem, Travers Murphy says.
“We knew that domestic violence incidents would spike,” she said. “People are quarantined in their homes with their abuser. So we need to think outside the box. We need to think creatively.”
It’s true, you can’t walk in to a Family Justice Center office. But there are other options. You can utilize the ‘Chatbox’ feature on their website to speak to an advocate. You can also call them at 716-558-7233.
Deputy Brian Mohr is the coordinator of the Erie County Sheriff Office’s Domestic Violence Unit. He says deputies typically respond to about 30 or 35 domestic calls each month. Even though his unit is working from home right now, they’ll respond when needed.
“We’re seeing a lot of our agencies binding together to do whatever they can do,” Mohr said.
The deputy doesn’t believe the rate of domestic calls deputies respond to is necessarily increasing right now. But Erie County District Attorney John Flynn notes those types of cases are still coming across his desk, even though crime across the board is down as of late.
“We’re seeing DV cases, domestic violence cases,” Flynn said. “I suspected that.”
Travers Murphy says family, friends, and neighbors all have a responsibility to keep an eye out for each other during these uncertain times.
“It’s really important if your gut is telling you something’s up, something’s up,” she added. “Trust your gut.
“The option of doing nothing is a terrible option.”