For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a plague of worries, some ranging beyond the medical threats themselves. The impact of the pandemic on the quality of our lives is also an issue that must not be dismissed.

A story in Saturday’s Press & Dakotan examined the rise in domestic violence incidents during the pandemic. According to the Yankton Police Department, local domestic violence calls are about 21% from last year, while Stacy Starzl, executive director of the River City Domestic Violence Center in Yankton, noted that national domestic violence reports are up about 40%.

Such statistics reflect the unique pressures created by the interruption of normal life by the coronavirus. People are losing their jobs and their health insurance. People are also being cooped up, perhaps not in full-on lockdown situations but in circumstances that can be relatively isolating.

“Anytime you have a situation like COVID where maybe work is off or there’s not the normal ability to reduce stress with work and other avenues, it tends to increase the stress and turmoil inside the home,” said Commander Todd Brandt of the Yankton Police Department.

Thus, it’s a reflection of the psychological impact of COVID-19 on our society. The stresses and uncertainties can become overwhelming and, at times, dangerous.

“Where there was domestic violence before, it has just increased in that household,” Starzl said, “and for those households that didn’t see domestic violence before, (they) are just having it now because of the new stresses in their lives.”

Law enforcement is working with local officials to provide the best care when domestic violence occurs.

But it’s also important for people who may be burdened by the pressures of COVID-related stress to seek out help BEFORE something unfortunate happens.

To be sure, it’s not an easy call to make. It can be difficult to admit there is a problem building, and you or someone else may face that fallout.

Yankton has no shortage of entities that can lend a hand if problems are building, or if domestic issues have already occurred. A good way to find such help is to call the 211 information number, which can provide direction in finding the right kind of help you may need.

If not that, then reach out to friends or family to let them know there is a problem. Talking about it can be a great means of diffusing the problem before it really becomes a bigger issue.

As always, the thing to bear in mind is that you are not alone. COVID is creating stresses all across the country, and until things are eventually sorted out and a sense of normalcy returns, seeking help to cope with domestic violence — either before or after the fact — is vitally important.


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