Domestic Violence Skyrockets as Coronavirus Keeps Families at Home


All across the country including the Bay Area and Oakland, people are following suggestions to shelter in place in their homes to protect themselves and each other from Covid-19. Since there are no empty houses, and fewer people on the streets, alleged criminals have fewer opportunities to strike. However, the unfortunate part of this, according to crime statistics around the country, is that domestic violence is rising with families in isolation together and tensions running high. It’s unfortunate what having everyone at home can do to the crime rate and increase of domestic violence phone calls to the police.

There are several reasons why the risk of domestic violence is getting higher during lockdowns and social distancing. In normal times, losing jobs, kids at home for holidays, and health scares can be big causes of domestic violence. Now, these factors are multiplied with so many millions of people going through those factors all over the country.

Law enforcement is urging people who are experiencing or who spot signs of abuse to reach out for help. They want to make it clear that they are able to help and that no one should be suffering in silence behind closed doors. In fact, in Los Angeles, lawyers report an increase in calls from women who have been the victims of violence from their partners. They are attributing that rise to the Coronavirus.

One big example of the type of disputes that families are having is with isolation and social distancing orders. Citizens are generally only permitted to go out of the home for essential duties, such as grocery shopping. One partner might be skirting these regulations and either getting abused mentally and or physically or abusing the one who complains about it. Abuse or harassment can come in many forms, whether it be verbally or physically.

Practicing social distancing is maybe one of the most important weapons in the fight to slow the spread of Covid-19. However, we must remember the risk to those who are more likely to be victims of violence and abuse in their homes.

When looking at property crime and police calls around major cities, such as New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles the numbers for property crime have dropped as much as 30% for the past month. New York City, which is the current epicenter of the virus outbreak in the United States is reporting that crime is down in just about every category. Some of the city’s streets, which are usually bustling with activity from commerce to tourists, are almost empty. Burglaries are down 20%, and rapes have dropped by over half.

Estimates show that the citizens of 23 states have been asked to stay home to slow the spread of the virus. This represents about 217 million people, which is well over half of the country. One of the other largest cities, Los Angeles, is reporting that their most common crime, car thefts, is down 24%. Car break-ins are 40% lower. San Francisco has found that shoplifting and bicycle theft have dropped as much as 30%.

In Oakland, officials feel that the lower crime rates are a positive sign beyond citizens being safe from crime. It is also showing that citizens are doing what governments are asking and staying home to keep everyone safe. Social distancing means that the police can focus on public safety and helping the community get through these difficult times without additional distractions from street crime.

Empty Streets in the Bay Area, Oakland and San Francisco as Coronavirus forces people to stay at home.
Empty streets in the Bay Area as the COVID-19 lockdown forces people to stay at home.

With orders to stay at home in California, special events and sports are being canceled or postponed, and an overall disruption to normal daily life, people are more stressed than ever. Layoffs and job-losses are rampant, and citizens fear the health crisis that may come with the virus spreading quickly around the country and the world. With all of that stress, and with families pressed together in close quarters, arguments and fighting amongst family members are rising.

Seattle is another center of the outbreak, and their domestic violence numbers have risen by 22% compared to the same week last year. Police say that most of the increase can be chalked up to arguments that got heated enough to call the police. In the vast majority of the cases, there was no violence, injury, damage, or arrests made. However, it is still taking up the time of the police.

If you’re in San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda or Contra Costa County, and you, someone you love or know has been the victim or wrongly accused of domestic violence and needs legal representation – please don’t hesitate to let us know. We are open for business and fully operational. We are receiving calls and taking new cases. For their protection and security, we are having our staff work from home.

We are available to meet with you by phone, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Skype, and other similar platforms. In this time of crisis, we are here to help you and give you all the information you need to protect yourself, your loved ones, and prevent having a criminal record affect your personal and professional life.

We also have YouTube videos that explain what happens in domestic violence cases when you go to court.

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