Despite increased legal penalties, more social programs, more advocacy outlets, and efforts to increase awareness, domestic violence continues to be a significant issue in our world. In fact, one in three women across the globe (and about 1 in 10 men) suffer domestic abuse at some point in their lives—leading to fragmented families, traumatized loved ones, and lasting psychological and physical damage.
That being said, knowledge is power. By studying both the standpoint of current trends and individual occurrences, we gain more knowledge that may one day help us curb this destructive force in people’s lives and families. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more significant news stories about domestic violence so far this decade to see what we can learn from them.
Pandemic Causes Worldwide Surge in Domestic Violence
Of course, the biggest domestic violence story of the past year extends beyond any single incident—and that is the disturbing fact that domestic violence rates have spiked across the globe in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This story has remained consistent from the beginning of the lockdowns until now, although it is just recently that actual numbers have begun to come in. One of the most recent studies has confirmed increased rates of domestic violence in seven countries during quarantines and lockdowns. Among those seven countries (Australia, Argentina, Mexico, India, Italy, Sweden, and the U.S.), total domestic violence rates went up by 7.8 percent last year. In the U.S. alone, the rate was slightly higher, at 8.1 percent. However, most experts agree that the actual numbers may be much higher due to suspicions that the majority of DV incidents went unreported during this time.
The most common reasons provided for the spike in violence during this time include:
- Increased financial and emotional stress (from economic woes as well as fear of the disease itself)
- Increased substance abuse
- Close proximity between alleged perpetrators and victims during lockdowns (no ability to create space or distance)
- An inability of victims to seek support or relief during lockdowns
What we can learn: Quite often, a solution to one problem can exacerbate other problems. The spike in domestic violence over the past year shows a huge logical gap in which authorities didn’t properly consider the unintended consequences of the lockdowns—and many families paid a dear price as a result. Hopefully, this conversation will prompt more studies and efforts to create contingency plans for future health crises where at-risk people won’t be put at greater risk in the event of a lockdown.
Lack of Funding and Staffing Reduces Responses to Domestic Violence Calls
In a story related somewhat to the previous one, an annual report by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) shows that a disturbing number of domestic violence calls went unanswered by helplines last year due to shortfalls in funding and staffing. A local news source in Ohio spotlights a key example in which 2650 calls for assistance came in to 70 domestic violence programs in a single day—and nearly a tenth of those calls were not answered due to budget cuts and a lack of resources. Additional reports also indicate that advocacy groups also struggled with a lack of temporary shelters for victims during this time.
What we can learn: Domestic violence assistance programs struggle to keep up with demand under regular conditions, but we can see that the spike in cases during the pandemic pushed them beyond their abilities to help. This story underscores a major need to increase funding and resources to help families struggling with domestic violence. Hopefully, this report serves as a wake-up call.
Multiple Law Enforcement Officers Arrested for Domestic Violence
A fairly recent series of news stories shine a light on another growing issue: law enforcement officials who themselves face domestic violence charges. On May 16, dual news stories in Colorado and Florida reported that police officers in both states had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. The Florida report, centered on Miami-Dade County, indicated that this was the second local officer in a week who had been arrested on domestic violence charges.
What we can learn: When we view domestic violence as a disease, not just a crime, we can see that it plays no favorites. Even those who are commissioned to make arrests for domestic violence are not immune to seeing DV arise in their own homes. Not only do we need to shore up more programs to provide relief and education toward domestic violence prevention, but considering how police violence, in general, has been in the spotlight this past year, it may also be time to reconsider screening and training processes for law enforcement officials themselves.
One major takeaway from these stories so far is that if you have recently been arrested and charged with domestic violence, you are not alone. DV affects many thousands of families each year, and it cuts equally across demographic, economic, and social boundaries. There are resources available to help you prevent a recurrence, but for now, if you need compassionate legal representation, we are here to help. Call our office today for a free case evaluation.