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Domestic Violence Arrests Surge in Arizona under Lockdown

Arizona has experienced a surge in reports of domestic violence in the wake of “stay-at-home” orders meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This increase in domestic violence appears to be in line with global trends as couples around the world self-isolate, and it may also be followed by an increase in divorce rates once the lockdown ends.

Reports of domestic violence in Phoenix were up 5.66% over last year in March, and they are up over 15% so far in April. According to the Phoenix Police Department, police were called out on 3,395 domestic violence calls in March 2019. In contrast, in March 2020, as Arizona’s lockdown orders began to get put in place, police saw those numbers jump to 3,587.

Of course, Governor Ducey did not impose a declaration of health emergency until March 11 and Arizona’s “stay-at-home” order did not come into effect until March 30. The March numbers therefore only give a partial picture of the effects of the lockdown order on domestic violence. So far, April has indicated that the increase in domestic violence resulting from COVID-imposed lockdown is actually much higher. From April 1 through 7 of 2019, Phoenix PD received 820 domestic violence calls, but during that same period this year, they have received 942. This is a 15% increase in domestic violence.

Meanwhile, the City of Surprise, Arizona reported a 29% increase in domestic violence calls in March. Buckeye police have reported a 25% increase for March.

The increase in domestic violence cases in Phoenix has led the Phoenix City Council to approve up to $765,000 in funding to go towards a new domestic violence shelter. Phoenix has contracted with Chrysalis Shelter to provide 14,750 beds and shelter to 320 residents and 80 children.

Arizona’s Domestic Violence Arrests in line with Worldwide Increase

The increase in domestic violence reports in Arizona appears to be in line with global trends. In countries around the world where lockdown and stay-at-home orders have been put into place, incidents of domestic violence have risen to varying degrees. Google has reported a 75% increase in searches for help with domestic violence. Spain has received 18% more calls in the first two weeks of the lockdown then at the same point in 2019. France has reported a 30% spike in calls related to domestic violence. And the United Kingdom has seen increases of up to 20%.

Interestingly, the New York Times is reporting that calls of reported domestic violence actually are down in New York City. The NYPD reports that domestic violence has fallen by nearly 15% compared to March 2019. This has concerned many who believe that this represents a lack of reporting rather than a decrease in actual crime.

Divorce Rate Likely to Rise?

The worldwide strain on some relationships created by the lockdown also may likely result in increased divorce filings as stay-at-home restrictions begin to ease. Bloomberg has reported that as social distancing restrictions have begun to ease in China, some Chinese law divorce firms are seeing a 25% increase in caseloads. China had also seen increases in domestic violence reports during their lockdown.

The social isolation, along with the financial strain and emotional stress related to the coronavirus pandemic could prove difficult for some couples to handle. Divorce firms often see a triple-digit increase in divorce filings after stressful periods of the year, such as the Holidays, and divorce lawyers have noted that self-isolation will put a particular strain on relationships where problems already exist.

Author Photo

Stewart Salwin

Stewart Salwin is the founder and lead attorney at Salwin Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona, just outside of the greater Phoenix area. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, where he was taught criminal law by world-renowned defense attorneys.

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