Arrests for domestic violence and battery in the city of San Diego have reached a six-year high, according to arrest data analyzed by NBC 7 Investigates.
Experts have long feared that the stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus could exacerbate domestic violence cases. The data shows it has done just that.
The data shows that 387 people were arrested from January 1 through July 1 on domestic violence charges where injuries were reported, up by 112 from 2019 and up 213 cases since 2018.
While felonies for domestic battery have increased drastically, arrests for misdemeanor domestic violence calls have not risen as dramatically.
This year, from January 1 through July 1, San Diego Police officers arrested 312 people on misdemeanor domestic violence calls. That number was up from 265 arrests in 2019 for the same period. However, it was down substantially since 2015 when there were 519 arrests reported on misdemeanor domestic battery charges.
“We were mortified to hear that people were going to be sheltering in place with someone who was harming them, and not only harming them but many times the children who were there [were] either witnessing or suffering from the abuse as well," said Verna Griffin-Tabor, the CEO of the Center for Community Solutions.
Griffin-Tabor says she and others who work with victims of domestic violence are not shocked to see the spike in arrests, as more victims are now able to come forward with claims of abuse as those stay-at-home orders have been loosened.
“I am not surprised to see the numbers go up in June,” said Griffin-Tabor
Claudia Grasso, a deputy district attorney, and president of the San Diego County Domestic Violence council agrees.
“It’s been difficult,” said Grasso. “Our big concern is reaching victims who are barricaded in their homes with their abusers.”
Grasso says that other factors such as the economic stress that have resulted from COVID-19 have also contributed to the increase in numbers.
“Those factors combined with alcohol or drugs, can create the perfect storm,” said Grasso. “If victims are being watched 24-7 then how are they going to be able to report? There’s nowhere to go and nothing is open, so how are they going to get the help they need?”
Both Grasso and Griffin-Tabor stress the importance of reporting any domestic abuse, even if many shelters and other homes are no longer available due to the pandemic.
“Help right now may look different, but it’s still there,” said Grasso.
For those who have or are experiencing or need information on domestic violence, Grasso suggests logging on to the San Diego County District Attorney’s website as a resource for domestic violence victims.
In addition, victims can call a national hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for help or text LOVEIS (568347) to the number 22522.