Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek today said domestic violence cases in Niagara County had significantly increased over the same time period last year, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic that ordered people to remain in their homes as much as possible.
“Sheriff Filicetti and I recently evaluated the number of domestic violence arrests,” said Wojtaszek. “According to our numbers, domestic violence arrests from January 1, 2019 through April 6, 2019 totaled 674. During that same timeframe this year, the total number of domestic arrests rose to 773, nearly 100 more cases county-wide.”
Wojtaszek, who has been involved in domestic violence prosecutions for much of her career, said that times of intense stress often lead to an increase in domestic violence cases.
“In many households we may have a confluence of events that can include family isolation and social distancing, anxiety over COVID-19, perhaps job loss and other economic stress, home schooling children and so on,” said Wojtaszek. “This can be a very troubling mix that leads to domestic violence.”
Wojtaszek said violence in the home is not just physical. Domestic violence includes verbal, emotional, financial, physical, and sexual abuse. Violence in the home can also involve animal abuse.
“For any individual or family who may be struggling or experiencing violence in the home, I want you to know that you are not alone,” said Wojtaszek. “In addition to law enforcement, it is important for each resident of Niagara County to know that there are many support agencies that continue to be available to you. Shelters and housing also remain available during this health crisis.”
Wojtaszek said there are many individual agencies to assist families in Niagara County and specifically mentioned the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier’s 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline. The hotline is available 24-hours a day, and provides phone counseling, support, and referrals to emergency shelter or housing. The YWCA Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline is at (716) 433-6716.
Wojtaszek also pointed to Pinnacle Community Services for Western New York as another resource with a 24-7 Domestic Violence Hotline & Passage House Shelter. They can be reached at (716) 299-0909
“And always remember, in the event of an emergency, call 911,” said Wojtaszek. “If you know a friend or family member who may be in a domestic violence situation, encourage them to seek assistance. We are here for them.”