DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND COVID-19

Domestic violence occurs in every economic, racial, and ethnic group. Compared to other crimes, it is significantly underreported and for many years, was largely ignored in polite society. One of the fundamental differences between family violence and other types of violence is that family violence takes place within ongoing relationships that are supposed to be protective and nurturing. These relationships often engender a sense of loyalty to abusers, which can be made manifest when the abused party denies, minimizes, or recants reports of the abuse.

Cycle of Violence

Domestic violence also differs from other types of crimes because of its cyclical nature, known as the “cycle of violence.” Often, after an occurrence of violence, the abuser will engage in so-called “positive” behaviors, like promising the violence will never happen again, tenderness and gifts. Then comes the tension building phase and finally a recurrence of domestic violence.

In addition to its cyclical quality, domestic violence can pervade an entire relationship. Although physical abuse may occur infrequently, when those incidents are combined with psychological abuse, the cycle of physical and psychological abuse can, as one author put it, be viewed as a single and continuing entity.

Domestic Violence Has Many Forms

According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office: “Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, stalking, or financial abuse. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, frighten, terrorize, injure or wound someone.”

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department: Intimate partners may be:

  • Married / not married / separated / divorced
  • Dating /engaged / formerly dating or engaged
  • Heterosexual / homosexual
  • Living together / formerly living together
  • Co-parents of a child
  • Adult / minor

Reports of Domestic Violence are Rising During Covid-19 Lockdown

It should come as no surprise that during mandatory shelter-in-place orders, reports of domestic violence are rising. Stories from every state and from countries abroad have featured increased domestic violence, including murders. The cause of the increase is not only additional contact, but also the stress that accompanies the loss of a job as well as having children at home.

In Houston TX, for example, the Houston Chronicle reported that domestic violence, as reported by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is surging during the lockdown there:

covid-19 Houston Chronicle

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has experienced an increase in calls, but workers there expect a great deal more in the coming months when survivors of violence are not in such close proximity to their abusers. In New York, calls to the domestic violence hotline in April 2020 were up over 30 percent from the number of calls made in April 2019. As a result of the pandemic and the close quarters in which some share with abusers, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence has launched a text helpline to attempt to help victims of domestic violence at home with during the lockdown.

In other parts of the country, a lack of an increase in calls was viewed as cause for concern. In Delaware, for example, the state’s attorney general has discreetly given out prepaid mobile phone to victims of domestic violence. In San Francisco, reports of domestic violence are down, but the District Attorney fears that attacks are not being reported.

It is clear that increased exposure to an abuser may not only increase the chances of domestic violence, but could also decrease the ability of a person who suffered abuse to obtain help. Here, in San Diego, although the courts have been closed since mid-March, the courts have continued to accept requests for domestic violence restraining orders throughout the closure.

If You Need Advice or Action, Reach Out for Help…

As experienced San Diego family law attorneys, we are available to help with advice about domestic violence, and, if necessary, with action to obtain restraining orders, along with expulsion of the abuser from the home. You should not have to live in an environment in which you or your children are at risk of physical or emotional abuse.


Read More About Domestic Violence

Intimate Partner Battering and Its Effects


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