The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has placed a great deal of stress on families across the U.S., as states issued stay-at-home orders. In Utah, the stay-at-home order was issued on April 3, 2020.
Families are together in the same households as many adults can't attend work or are required to work from home. Children won't return to school until September. In addition, the economic situation is leaving many families unable to make ends meet and uncertain about the future.
As a result of the nationwide lockdown, cases of domestic violence and abuse have significantly increased.
Some people handle this stress in different ways. The current situation can be dangerous to families who living with someone who is prone to violent outbursts.
Domestic abuse cases up 21%
According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, a call to the police was made five days after the stay-at-home order was issued for Utah. A woman reported what sounded like a heated domestic dispute coming from her neighbor's house.
When police arrived, they heard a man shout "you're worthless" and "do you want to get shot?" The man was arrested by police and the victim was treated for facial wounds. When police entered the house, they discovered blood splattered on the floor, walls, and a bed. A mirror was also reportedly broken.
This incident was only one of the 318 domestic violence incidents that were received by Salt Lake County prosecutors within four weeks after March 16. This accounted for a 21 percent increase in domestic violence incidents when compared to the same period in 2019.
According to District Attorney Sim Gill, every other type of crime has decreased during this period, while domestic violence has increased.
“This crime happens so often in the isolation of the home,” said Gill. “And if you look at the dynamics of an abuser, it’s really often isolation, alienation and segregation of the victim from family and friends. Shelter at home then actually becomes a more pronounced petri dish of that abuse.”
In addition, judges are prosecuting fewer cases to keep people out of crowded jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. This leaves vulnerable family members and children at risk of further abuse.
How does shelter-in-place affect children?
Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services reports that cases of child abuse and neglect have decreased from April 1-21 (1,586 calls.) That's compared to the same period in 2019 (2,433 calls).
DCFS Executive Director Diane Moore believes that incidents of child abuse and neglect are actually rampant during this time, but are not being reported.
“The reason is because these kids are isolated. They lack the visibility that would normally lead to reporting,” said Moore.
In 2019, more than 20 percent of reports of child abuse and neglect were called in by school personnel. This year, those reports have dropped by nine percent.
Can an attorney help me if I'm a victim of domestic abuse?
If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, it's critical that you take legal action. An experienced attorney at Andrus Law Firm, LLC can help you in the pursuit of justice. We handle a wide range of abuse and assault cases and take an inclusive approach to each case we handle.
Contact us online to find out how we can help you or call our Salt Lake City office at (801) 535-4645.