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Domestic Violence and COVID-19

May 20, 2020 | COVID-19, Domestic Violence

A number of articles have been written on the issue of whether COVID-19 has led to an increase in domestic violence. The predominant opinion appears to be that it has.

Family Violence in Phoenix

As early as March, reports were circulating that the police were seeing a rise in the number of domestic violence calls received in Phoenix. Although the March increase was only about 5.6% over the same period in 2019, many people attributed the rise to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the numbers did not appear that significant by themselves, they became more meaningful when similar numbers appeared in various areas across the country. ABC News requested information on March domestic violence calls from a host of law enforcement agencies. Of the 22 that responded, 18 reported an increase in domestic violence calls between February and March of this year, and the collective increase was about 20%. In Chicago, the increase between March 2020 and March 2019 was 13%.

The rise appears largely due to an increase in stress. Financial stress alone, according to some experts, is like a time bomb in many families, particularly those with a history of domestic violence. The result, the reports state, have put a strain on the resources of shelters for abuse victims.

Does Drop in Domestic Violence Calls Mean Less Domestic Violence?

Well, if an increase in calls to the police about family violence is bad, then a decrease in calls must be good, right? Not according to the Marshall Project, a non-profit providing journalism on criminal justice issues. They examined three cities, including Chandler, Arizona, that were experiencing a drop in domestic violence calls. While overall crime dropped significantly during the pandemic, DV calls have dropped to a much lesser degree.

So what exactly is going on? Some believe that because of the stay-at-home orders around the country, some victims of domestic violence have less of a chance of finding space to be alone and make the call to the police to report family abuse. But no matter how you look at it, it appears that domestic violence overall is on the increase – in Phoenix and around the country – since the beginning of the pandemic.

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