NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While experts say staying home is our best defense against the spread of the coronavirus, there is an unintended consequence in New York — a rise in domestic violence.

The streets are empty as New Yorkers stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, but for victims of domestic violence, a different danger lies behind closed doors.

  • New York State Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906
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Kimberlina Kavern directs the crime victim assistance program at Safe Horizon.

“They are in a home with their abusive partner without access to their usual supports,” she told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.

With businesses closing, unemployment skyrocketing and everyone home right now, she says it’s a recipe for abuse to intensify.

“Things like financial stress or substance abuse don’t cause domestic violence — domestic violence is about power and control — but those stressors on a person or on a relationship can certainly increase the frequency or severity [of domestic violence],” Kavern said.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office says there’s been a 15-20% uptick in reports of domestic violence statewide these last few weeks.

The NYPD has not seen such numbers, which Chief of Crime Control Michael Lipetri worries might indicate another problem.

“Our first concern is under-reporting,” he said. “Most precincts have more than one dedicated domestic violence officer. We are tasking them to reach out, follow up with our victims to ensure they have the avenues of reporting.”

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With schools closed, there are fewer eyes on children in abusive households.

Cecilia Land is a social worker with the Greenwich House Children’s Safety Project.

“The biggest concern is not being able to, I think, manage what is going on at home,” she said.

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Since we all see fewer people day-to-day now, it can be harder for victims to reach out to somebody they know for help. That’s why social workers say it’s more important than ever to check on friends and neighbors over the phone.

“If they’re not saying too much, I think you have to maybe spend some extra time probing,” Land said.

“What we want people to know is that services are still available, police are still available, courts are still available,” Kavern said.

Because no survivor should suffer in silence.

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For more information on domestic violence shelters and hotlines in the tri-state area, visit