MADISON, Wis. As more people practice isolation amid the Coronavirus outbreak, domestic violence experts are preparing for an uptick in cases.
Streets are lined with cars. Driveways are packed. It's a new normal as people stay home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
Domestic violence experts said the isolation forces some to shelter where it's unsafe.
Nela Kalpic, domestic abuse survivor and public speaker, said that environment used to be her reality.
"It was like really really bad. It was so many times when I thought I was going to die," she said.
Kalpic was in an abusive marriage for 12 years.
"Hopelessness, feeling invisible, feeling scared," she said.
She said she felt trapped until she left her abuser and got a divorce.
But she fears the Coronavirus quarantine is putting domestic violence survivors in devastating situations.
“They're not able to catch a break. The abuser is at home all the time and struggling with different kinds of anxieties just like the rest of us," she said.
Shannon Barry, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) executive director, said economic strain coupled with social isolation can have consequences.
"This pandemic with social isolation, people being stuck at home, losing employment..," she said. "This pandemic offers them a whole new toolkit in terms of ways they may exploit it to further control their victims."
She explained during the recession, there was a significant uptick in abuse cases due to economic stress. Barry said the 2008-2009 Wisconsin homicide rate in domestic violence related deaths increased 46 percent.
Barry said so much of domestic violence is strategic isolation, which allows batterers to maintain control over their victims.
Under these circumstances, she said it's important the community members knows there are prevention services to keep them safe.
"It's sort of like being in a war zone and those are the people we aren't going to leave behind."
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, call DAIS’ 24 hour helpline 608-251-4445 for assistance.