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  • Is Domestic Violence Surging in the Age of COVID-19?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    With COVID-19 bringing significant job losses around the country, schools closing down, and families being shut indoors with each other day after day, the rate of domestic violence climbs. The financial stressors of the failing economy, uncertainty about whether or not you will have a job, and just the stress of changing your routine and environment entirely can bring about significant stress. For some, that stress turns into violence against their loved ones.

    Even those without a history of domestic abuse may turn violent. For those already victims of domestic violence, the only salvation they had was going to work. Now they are stuck at home with their abuser, making the home an extremely dangerous place.

    How COVID-19 Lockdowns and Restrictions Increased the Number of Domestic Violence Cases in the United States

    Almost every state is reporting an increase in domestic violence calls, and these have continued to climb since the initial lockdowns in March took place. Women who were already victims are experiencing worsened acts of violence, more frequent attacks, and in some cases, deaths. Children, who are normally at school and away from the home, are witnessing these acts and worse – in some cases, they become victims, too.

    Couples without a history of violence are also experiencing instances of domestic abuse.

    All of this comes down to the stressors along with any existing rage and tendencies, such as:

    • Financial distress is a common reason for marital disputes. Right now, there are millions of people out of work in the United States, and July marks the end of any enhanced unemployment benefits. For states that are slowly reopening, a lot of jobs did not return. Some may be stuck on unemployment while they scramble to apply for the minimal jobs that are out there. As consumers fall behind on their payments and foreclosure and eviction protection laws expire, the stress becomes much higher for those families who are in financial distress. That stress alone is a trigger, and it can become a dangerous one for anyone who already tends towards violence or abuse of their loved ones.
    • Being stuck indoors and away from friends, family, and coworkers put everyone on edge. The family dynamic works well, but often it works well when they have a chance to go about their routines. That means going to work, school, or even to a friend’s house. Right now, most families are stuck indoors, not even associating with other relatives, neighbors, and friends. Being stuck indoors, unable to have an outlet (in a time of high stress no less) is a breeding ground for tension. As that tension grows, so does the risk of domestic abuse.
    • Victims of domestic violence are now stuck with their abusers and cannot escape. Much worse, victims of domestic abuse are now stuck at home with their abuser. This gives the abuser even more power over their victims and leaves the victim constantly in fear. These victims have nowhere to go, and some hotlines are so overwhelmed that women find it hard to wait in line for someone to answer. Worse, with their abuser home, they may feel that they have nowhere they can go safely to call for help – or receive retaliation if they are caught calling for help.
    • Government systems were already fragile and now they are overwhelmed. With offices working at a lower capacity and even some hotline representatives working out of their home, these already fragile, underfunded violence hotlines and services are overwhelmed with calls – many they cannot get to in time. Even law enforcement is overwhelmed with domestic violence complaints, and courts do not have the resources to carry through in many cases, leaving victims feeling helpless.

    False Accusations of Abuse Are Also on the Rise

    Unfortunately, there is another trend with everyone at home, dealing with the new “normal” of COVID-19 lifestyles. Divorce rates are on the rise, and with divorce comes heated battles over assets, sometimes custody, and this can turn parties vindictive against one another. From that can stem false accusations of domestic abuse. One spouse may claim violence as a way to gain an upper hand in a divorce negotiation or even when seeking custody of minor children.

    Sadly, this is taxing an already overburdened system, leaving real victims without resources.

    An accusation or arrest for domestic violence, in today’s limited job market, could be devastating. Even if it comes out later that you were not guilty, you will have an arrest record that could prevent you from snagging one of the very few jobs out there right now.

    Worse, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you may have almost no opportunities to find a job while the economy recovers from the coronavirus. You could spend time in prison for something you did not do, take and pay for court-ordered therapies and rehabilitation programs, serve probation, and lose custody of your children.

    Find an Attorney to Help You with Your Domestic Violence Case

    If you were arrested for domestic violence and you feel that you have been falsely accused, now is the time to act. No one can afford to have a permanent criminal record, and while a spouse might be taking advantage of the increase in domestic violence cases to try and get an upper hand in a divorce, you must fight back.

    Sometimes, all the prosecution needs are the testimony of your ex-spouse, and that testimony could put you in prison for years as well as permanently affix a criminal record to your history.

    You need an aggressive defense team that has defeated false accusations of domestic abuse, and you need a team ready to act even if the virus is still disrupting our day-to-day lives. The attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices are here to assist you with your case.

    Schedule a free case evaluation with a defense attorney today or contact us online to explore your options for meeting with our team.