Reports of more serious cases of domestic violence during pandemic

As the pandemic continues, organizations that work with victims of domestic violence are not only seeing more requests for help but more serious cases of abuse.

In just two months, the Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), a non-profit in Houston, has been granted as many lifetime protective orders as it normally does in an entire year.

"That's pretty extreme and that speaks to the nature of the extreme violence that [victims] have been subject to in these last few weeks and months," said Maisha Colter, AVDA's CEO.

AVDA helps its clients with legal services in the Houston-area. Colter says the job losses, isolation, and stress of the pandemic has increased the need for their services.

"With the increase in severity of abuse comes the implication for lethality -- that someone may get killed," she added.

In April, the organization had 117 new cases. In May, their cases more than doubled to 242.

They have also report a 90 percent increase in requests for divorce, child support, and child custody.

Last month, they brought on an additional trauma counselor.

"Our trauma counselor was very overwhelmed in terms of number of people who were seeking those particular services," Colter told FOX 26.

AVDA has extended its workweek to keep up with the demand for services.

"Calls are being answered, interviews are happening via Zoom and telephone, and we are extending our services to Saturday," Colter explained.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez reports his department is also working to better help victims before its too late.

"We created a threat management unit that looks at these cases. We're one of the first in the region to do that. Where we can see these harassment behaviors, stalking type cases and be able to drill down, look at the analytics and make a determination of what the risk factors are for threat," Gonzalez said.

For more information on AVDA’s services, visit their website or call 713-224-9911.