Surge in domestic violence continues in April, an unprecedented increase in northern Nevada

Image: The Sierra Nevada Ally

The Domestic Violence Resource Center in Reno operates a 24-hour emergency hotline, and since the closure of nonessential businesses and schools, the number of emergency calls have more than doubled over historic averages.

“Between the months of March and February, we saw 65 percent increase in the numbers of calls to the emergency hotline,” said Denise Yoxsimer, executive director of the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Reno.

Before the pandemic, domestic violence was one of the most frequently committed crimes in the state. According to the Nevada Attorney General’s office, in 2018, there were 42,032 victims of domestic violence in Nevada with 10,668 law enforcement contacts. That’s 115 cases a day statewide. The added pressures of social distancing and self-isolation are driving factors.

“When you have a domestic violence relationship, and one or both partners or the partners need to be self-isolating together, compounded potentially by financial insecurities and or layoffs, furloughs, etc, the stress really compounds itself, and particularly when one partner can’t leave and go to work for the day,” Yoxsimer said. “I think you can see how those stressors will continue to compound and can lead to increased violence in those kinds of relationships.”

The center maintains residential programs at three different facilities. The emergency shelter can accommodate 25 individuals for up to 90 days each but has been capped at 18 to maintain safe social distancing margins. The organization also operates two apartment complexes with 19 units available for up to 2 years each, and they, along with the emergency shelter, are full.

To meet increased demand for services, the organization is providing emergency shelter services at motels in the community. In alternative housing, ancillary costs like food and transportation are more expensive.

Yoxsimer said her team is working to raise needed dollars to pay for the additional rooms and services because April is shaping up to be as violent as March.

“It definitely is looking like we are, at a minimum, maintaining that increased level of call volume, if not surpassing that for the month of April as well,” Yoxsimer said.

Both English and Spanish language support groups have moved online, but the center still maintains limited walk-in hours at its Vasser Street administrative offices. Yoxsimer said they must maintain the ability to assist those in crisis face-to-face, albeit through a mask.

“We understand how important it is to have that physical connection when you are processing trauma, so we have gone to great lengths, as every other organization in the community has, to instill social distancing guidelines, cleaning, etc, so that we can continue to see domestic violence survivors face-to-face at our administrative facility.”

If someone you know is in danger, contact the 24-hour hotline – 775-329-4150


Brian Bahouth writes about a variety of issues for The Ally. Support his work.