NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every year, millions of people are impacted by some form of intimate partner abuse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for services has been unrelenting, with the number of people suffering, continuing to climb.

The smallest gesture can make the greatest impact don’t those suffering. By being a friend and letting someone know you’re there for them, you can help them get help and save their life.

“People are hiding in plain sight amongst all of us who are experiencing this,” said Morgan Ferrarotti, the secretary of the board of directors at the Interval House, Connecticut’s largest domestic violence agency.

Help is out there and hope is possible. That’s the message Ferrarotti has for anyone suffering from domestic violence.

“It was a situation where I didn’t even realize I was a domestic violence victim,” Ferrarotti said. “Through resources and help, I was able to able to look at that experience back as I was able to rebuild my life.”

She’s now dedicated to helping others on their journey. Through its “Purple with a Purpose” campaign during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Interval House is working to raise awareness and funds to support victims and survivors.

“We all have to come together to call this tragic and devastating behavior,” said Mary-Jane Foster, the Interval House’s president and CEO.

One in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. About 47% of women and men experienced psychological aggression by a partner.

The Interval House has seen a 32% rise in bed nights and a 57% increase in hotline calls since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“Pre-pandemic, we worked with about 5,500 victims,” Foster said. “Last year, it was almost 6,800. The isolation of the pandemic brought out an increase in numbers, and now that it’s opening up a little, abusers are losing control and the numbers are increasing again.”

That’s why they’re encouraging everyone to get involved.

“We all have a responsibility, wherever we see it, to take action,” Rich Brown, a member of Men Make a Difference said.

That action can be a simple step.

“The smallest contact — a text, an email, a voicemail, ‘Hi! Think of you! Hope you’re well. See you soon.’ — that’s it. If you can somehow invade that isolation, that sort of cone of silence and let a victim know they’re not alone, that will mean all the world and make all the difference.”

How to get help

Safe Connect is a statewide network of domestic violence programs that can be reached 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year via phone, text, chat and email.

There is also the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), which provides domestic violence crisis intervention and referrals to domestic violence service providers throughout the United States.

The links below are to organizations that have more information on domestic violence:

The mayor and police chief of New Haven, states attorney, members of Congress and domestic violence survivors gathered Monday at New Haven City Hall.

“This is more than real,” said Rep. Robyn Porter (D-Hamden/New Haven). “I’m glad to know that we have had zero domestic violence murders in this city for the last year.”