Domestic abuse calls intensify as COVID-19 restrictions ease

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With COVID-19 restrictions easing in New Jersey, domestic abuse calls in New Jersey are intensifying.

"It really is just a powder keg of violence and abuse going right now," said Nicolas Luciano, founder and executive director of Forever Your Overwatch.

The nonprofit group helps people escape abusive relationships. Luciano said his organization is receiving less calls during the pandemic, but lately those that do come in have been extremely intense.

"The majority of our requests are serious. Lately, they've been life-threatening where we've had no choice but to go out that day or the day after to try to help them out."

Luciano says he's finding that most people who are planning to leave an abusive relationship don't because they're already fearful of the abuser, and now the pandemic.

He said some of their appeals are to the effect of, "'You're trying to kill me, because if the cops come and arrest me, I'm gonna go to jail and I'm gonna get COVID and die,' then there's, 'If you try to leave then you're gonna get it.'"

With COVID-19 restrictions easing a bit in New Jersey on June 15, Luciano is hoping it will encourage the abused to reach out to agencies like his and seek help.