PUEBLO — Domestic violence is the highest it's been in Pueblo in the last four years.
The Pueblo Police Department finds this year's numbers of domestic violence cases "concerning," releasing a video that brings awareness to the severity of the situation. They believe the rise in cases is largely in part to the pandemic and quarantining.
According to the police, many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic, making it more difficult to pay bills and causing an increased level of stress.
Gabbi Skubal lost her best friend, Nicole Stephenson, to domestic violence back in February, pushing her to become an advocate for other victims in the community.
“I lost Nicole’s life," said Skubal. "So I’ve got to do something to make it not in vain.”
Skubal launched Nicole's Army, a Facebook group for victims of domestic violence to reach out for help and resources. The group now has about 3,500 members, but Skubal says she knows that COVID-19 has stunted any positive change for domestic violence in Pueblo.
“Our efforts haven’t slowed down, but not much has been able to change yet." Skubal, like the police, believes multiple factors of the pandemic have fostered the community's increase of domestic violence. "Everybody’s locked at home, and then everybody’s on restrictions as far as social distancing so our agencies aren’t able to assist as many people."
According to the police department's data, between just July and September of this year, they have recorded 344 cases of domestic violence. The total number of cases for 2020 has already reached 974, whereas this time last year Pueblo had only recorded 878 cases.
However, Skubal believes that more than just the pandemic is causing this problem with violence in Pueblo. She said Stephenson struggled to get empathetic help when struggling with her abuser.
"There's a lot of changes that need to be made. It is systemic, it's not anyone person's fault, but we all owe the responsibility to our community to get it fixed."
Law enforcement noted the fact that cases of domestic violence typically increase around the holidays. If you or a loved one is falling victim to domestic violence, there are several resources within Pueblo that can help.