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Domestic violence surged during and after Hurricane Ian

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Harbor House of Central Florida, which provides shelter and other resources to people experiencing domestic violence, received more calls than normal after Hurricane Ian. 

WMFE’s Danielle Prieur spoke with Director Michelle Sperzel about the challenges a storm like Ian poses to survivors and victims of abuse.  

Interview highlights

On the prevalence of domestic violence in all its forms

"So, we know that it's one in three women in their lifetime will be impacted by domestic violence. The other thing is in the United States, every 90 seconds someone is a victim of domestic violence."

On a surge in abuse during and after Hurricane Ian

"A lot of people basically were being abused, both physically, emotionally. And that's something that abusers do. They use incidences such as hurricanes or even when we had COVID and we were sheltering in place, to really take that as an opportunity to increase the abuse."

On signs of abuse to look for

"Availability is one thing, because a lot of times abusers will take over someone's entire time. Another one would be someone's self esteem. You notice someone who's in a domestic violence situation, that they are not believing in themselves as much as they were before [...] another piece would be keeping an eye out for financial abuse. And so that's something that you might see your friend is on a tight budget. And that doesn't make sense when you're thinking about how much it is or what they do for a living. It might be that that person is not allowed to go to school anymore."

If you or someone you know is currently being abused physically, emotionally, verbally or sexually, you can get help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Or text START to 88788. 

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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