Senator Amy Klobuchar visited Duluth's Safe Haven shelter Tuesday morning to discuss funding efforts for domestic violence shelters in the state.
"We just cannot forget these victims while we all struggle with the pandemic in so many ways," said Klobuchar.
Locally, between March 15 and April 15, Safe Haven saw an 11 percent spike in hotline calls, but between April 15 and May 15, their volume call dropped by 60 percent, indicating to them that victims were not safe at home to makes calls for help.
"This would make intuitive sense because you've got a situation where people are stuck in the same house and it's very hard for victims to even make phone calls to ask for help," said Klobuchar.
"Isolation is one of the most tragic tactics that abusers use as far as controlling their victims," said Brittany Robb, the executive director of Safe Haven.
Robb added now that the stay-at-home order is lifted, they've noticed a gradual up-tick in calls, and are optimistic that survivors will again be safe enough to reach out.
That's why Klobuchar said she is finding ways to secure more funding to these shelters. Recently, more funding was provided to the state through the CARES Act.
"We were able to get $670,000 just for Minnesota in increased funding for domestic violence. That money is with the state and it's going out to local shelters and other places," said Klobuchar.
Klobuchar also said she hopes the HEROES Act passes in the senate because it would provide $100 million in funding for domestic violence services, including here in Duluth, which she applauded for the hard work the shelters do to help victims.
"We have a proud tradition in Duluth in handling domestic violence cases in a nationally renowned way of making sure that we acknowledge them and that we prosecute them but that also we do everything we can to make sure that this doesn't happen again," said Klobuchar.
Robb said they have been helping victims during this pandemic with things like safety planning and virtual services. They're also finding ways to offer safe housing for victims.
"We've relied on our local partners at hotels to be able to space folks out and we've really relied on efforts of technology to be able to continue to offer and provide that one-on-one advocacy to support through video conferencing and kind of thinking about our work in new and innovative ways," said Robb.
Robb said they have been working close with police and local partners to promote their services on social media and in places where victims are likely to go like grocery stores, hospitals, and gas stations. Robb said the shelter has adapted to helping victims during this health pandemic and foresee more changes happening in the future.
"We're going to have to make some pretty dramatic changes in the future. Even our actual shelter space is going to have to change pretty significantly and so having some funding opportunities available to look into doing that is going to be critical to our ability to provide services," said Robb.
Duluth Police say they are seeing the same amount of calls for domestic violence service calls they normally see this time of the year. From March to May 2018, they received 403 calls, and this year so far, they've received 415. They said they are in communication with several community organizations to spread the message that they are ready to help.