When calling a domestic violence hotline, the first question is often: Are you in a safe place to talk?

Lately, Elaine Fillion-Crouse said the answer for a lot of people is “no.”

Fillion-Crouse is a social worker and vice president of clinical services at New Hope, a group that offers support to victims of domestic and sexual violence in central and southeastern Massachusetts. Right now, with many businesses closed, some victims are stuck at home with their abuser, she said.

As officials and physicians tell people to stay at home to avoid getting or spreading the novel coronavirus, many experts worry about those for whom home is not a safe or a happy place. They predict an uptick in domestic violence and divorce.

“There is a lot of safety concerns,” Fillion-Crouse said. “Some people are letting us know that they can only call when they are going to the grocery store.”

Usually people can call the hotline when their abuser is at work or when the victim is on their way to work, daycare drop off or a doctor’s appointment. But those routines and errands have come to a halt.

“A couple people we heard from this week were telling us that their person is tracking them more closely,” said Fillion-Crouse.

Other organizations in Massachusetts are seeing the same thing.

"Calls have been a little quieter over the last couple of weeks,” said Stephanie Brown, the chief executive officer of Casa Myrna, which operates the statewide domestic violence hotline SafeLink. “In part, that's because survivors don't have a safe place that they can call from.”

Brown said, even if she does not have the numbers to prove it, she is confident that coronavirus has made things worse for victims of domestic violence. In China, there are news reports that one local police station saw the number of domestic violence cases triple in February, which was a particularly intense period during their outbreak.

“This kind of stress exacerbates the situation. And so, I think if someone was abusing someone emotionally, psychologically, financially, that will continue and escalate and it may lead to physical violence,” said Brown.

She pointed to a variety of compounding factors, including the stress of health risks, the inability to see friends and family who might normally offer support and the financial burden of much of the economy coming to a standstill.

The shelters that both New Hope and Casa Myrna operate are at capacity, but their hotlines are open, offering legal advice and helping to craft safety plans. They are also giving out supplies and gift cards to grocery stores, among other things.

Jennifer Roman, an attorney in Massachusetts specializing in family law, points out that the police are always operating and the courts are available.

“Courts in Massachusetts, although closed for non-emergent matters, are open for emergencies and will hear restraining orders,” said Roman.

She said that after long weekends — three days straight at home — there is typically an uptick in restraining orders. So given the extended public health crisis, there’s no telling the scale of what could happen with weeks or months at home.

Roman said she expects once the state emerges from the outbreak, the courts will also see another type of case, too. “A prolonged period of time where people are out of their routines and stuck at home with each other will exacerbate any marital difficulties that may have been preexisting," she said. "I think we'll see an increase in divorces.”

For families who are already divorced, Roman said, she’s been getting calls about exes who have different opinions on how cautiously to approach this outbreak. And some spouses are worried about what happens if Massachusetts comes down with an order that is very restrictive.

In some places, according to Roman, the restrictive orders to stay home do not allow kids to be shuttled from one parent’s house to another parent’s house.

While it’s unclear if this will become the case in Massachusetts, it has become apparent to experts that social isolation designed to improve public health is having collateral damage, heightening family turmoil and placing vulnerable populations at risk.

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic or dating violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the National Sexual Assault Hotlineat 1-800-656-4673. To reach Casa Myrna's statewide hotline, SafeLink, please call 877-785-2020.