COLUMBUS (WCMH) – One local shelter is seeing a steady increase in calls from domestic violence victims.

Now, it’s trying to reduce the call volume, but knows it can’t do it alone: it’s going to take a community effort.

Franklin County has seen a 27 percent increase from people needing help in cases of domestic violence.

Lutheran Social Services’ CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence is over capacity. It has room for 120 domestic violence victims, but is now serving 138.

“When the pandemic started, and we started to see the increase in calls from the police, we knew that this wave of people was coming,” said Sue Villio, assistant vice president of Community Based Services.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, calls for help have risen. What was once approximately 12 calls a day is sometimes as many as 15.

“This is very hard for people to admit it’s happening in their lives,” Villilo said. “It’s even hard to admit to yourself.”

She said the increase in calls has forced the shelter expand.

“We had to add six bedrooms,” Villilo said. “A total of 24 beds and it has four full bathrooms and a laundry area.”

She said there may be more victims out there in need of help.

“People will often call the hotline several times before they’re ready to make a change or ask for assistance,” she said. “So, we actually have people call multiple times before we engage in any services.”

It’s why Villilo hopes after people learn the extent of the increase, others will be willing to be more vocal and help others.

“So many people still think it’s a family issue,” she said. “It’s not. It’s a crime. It’s a crime being committed in about a third of the community and we’ve got to talk about it. We’ve got to educate people about it, and we’ve got to let victims know there is help available for them.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs help, call LSS CHOICES at 614-224-4663 (HOME) .