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Reports of domestic violence in the United States could be much higher than statistics show, because many victims are often afraid to speak out about the abuse. Pay attention to the signs of domestic violence to know if someone needs help. Wochit

Local hotline sees 90 percent decrease of calls to crisis hotline

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FARMINGTON — A non-fatal shooting in the Kirtland area in early April involving a dating couple shines a light on the possible increase of domestic violence incidents as stay-at-home orders and curfews are enacted to migrate the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Blaine Roquemore is accused of shooting his girlfriend in the chest then shooting himself during an argument on April 4 at a residence in Kirtland.

The couple had allegedly fought over the number of dogs living inside the residence on the night of April 3. The fight continued into the next day.

More: Kirtland man hospitalized after allegedly shooting his girlfriend and then shooting himself

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office issued a press release about the incident that stated stay-at-home orders have the potential to "worsen the isolation of domestic violence victims."

Liz Carr believes domestic violence is an issue some people tend to forget as the world grapples with the pandemic and that incidents of domestic violence are still happening.

She is the senior native affairs advisor for the StrongHearts Native Helpline. 

The organization is described as a culturally appropriate service dedicated to serving Native American survivors of domestic violence.

It makes referrals to Native American or tribal domestic violence service providers along with providing support for survivors including peer support, safety planning and crisis interventions.

Those who work the hotline have received a couple of phone calls where callers were afraid to go to a domestic violence shelter due to fears of the contagious nature of COVID-19.

She believes the hotline will see a rise in people seeking services as people adjust to stay-at-home situations and more people are isolated from their communities.

Carr added that shelters are struggling with capacity to house survivors due to social distancing requirements and limited amount of space.

Family Crisis Center works to keep clients safe from coronavirus

To keep people healthy and safe, the Family Crisis Center has reduced its capacity to house people by 40 percent, according to Executive Director Opal Cole. It is currently prioritizing San Juan County and Navajo Nation residents in need.

Cole said if the facility reaches capacity, it has other options available to avoid turning victims away.

Family Crisis Center is also working to keep people at the shelter safe. Facility staff have been wearing masks and gloves and working to sterilize its shelter space.

They have even located a space within the facility to house someone who tests positive or is presumed to have coronavirus while still providing all the necessities they would require, Cole said.

In addition, counselors have been answering calls on their cell phones and organizing Zoom video calls for clients.

Shelter manager believes victims may think they are stuck at home

The Shiprock Northern T.R.E.E. Shelter operates under the Family Harmony Program on the Navajo Nation, according Shelter Manager Trudy Tsosie.

The program saw a decrease of about 90 percent of callers to its crisis line for the month of March, according to Tsosie.

She added that she believes some victims may believe they are stuck at home until the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

"That's where I am concerned. We're here and available for services. I don't think the victims know that we are here," Tsosie said.

Staff are taking extra precautions while doing intake for the shelter including asking some health questions and even practicing social distancing while transporting victims.

How to get help

The Stronghearts Native Helpline is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in CT at 1-844-762-8483 and at www.strongheartshelpline.org.

The Family Crisis Center hotline is staffed 24-7 at 505-564-9192 or toll-free at 1-888-440-9194 and at familycrisiscenternm.org.

The Family Harmony Program Crisis Hotline is staffed 24-7 at 505-368-1157.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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