TAMPA, Fla. - Hillsborough prosecutors and domestic violence shelters are alarmed at a drop in calls for help.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Between March 1 and April 24 of last year, there were 1,182 calls for help. This year, there were 1,146.
To them, that doesn't mean the abuse isn't happening; it means it's not being reported.
"The side of the call I hear is just devastating," said Mindy Murphy, the head of The Spring, Hillsborough County's domestic violence shelter. " When your movement is severely restricted, and you are not leaving the house, it limits a survivor's options."
Hillsborough prosecutors are especially alarmed because, during the same time period last year, there were 1,060 domestic violence injunctions granted.
This year, there were only 716.
"The abuse is happening, but victims ad survivors are just not seeking help," said Andrew Warren, the Hillsborough County State Attorney.
That's why his office is launching the "We are Open" campaign.
Designed to spread on TV and social media, the ads let victims know their hotline and support services like accepting remote applications for injunctions are all open.
"Our commitment to help domestic violence survivors never ends," said Warren. "The support we have for them never closes."
The Spring says there are ways of coordinating escape plans with victims that avoid potentially inflaming the situation and infuriating an already-controlling person.
They're also relieved restaurant and retail restrictions are starting to be lifted.
"There have been a couple of survivors who have reached out for services this week literally because restrictions are being lifted and it's the first time they have been able to reach the outside world," said Murphy.
The Spring can be reached at https://www.thespring.org/ or 813-247-7233.
Information on the "We are Open" campaign can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/sao13th/photos/a.884612448325232/2937963042990152/?type=3&theater
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