[4/14/20] – Reported Domestic Violence Cases Increase Amid Stay-At-Home Orders

In mid-March, states began implementing stay-at-home orders in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve. Today, the New York Times reports that there are at least 316 million Americans, in more than 42 states, who have been urged to stay-at-home in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

How have the stay-at-home orders impacted crime rates in the United States? News sources are reporting that crime rates in cities with stay-at-home orders have decreased. Despite these downward trends, there has been a surge in one type of crime: domestic violence. According to The Hill, a number of cities have publicly reported an increase in domestic violence crimes. Chicago reported that domestic violence calls increased by 14.6% when compared to the 2019 data, and Seattle reported a 21% increase. CNN also reported that the National Domestic Violence Hotline has received thousands of calls from victims. In these calls women are sharing that their abuse has gone from emotional to physical and that their abusers are using COVID-19 as a fear tactic (i.e. by coughing on them). Despite these reported increases, law enforcement officials believe that the number of domestic violence crimes that have/are taking place during the stay-at-home orders is higher. Why? Domestic violence is a crime that largely goes under-reported due to fear. The stay-at-home orders, according to advocates, are considered to be the worst-case scenario for victims of domestic violence, as many victims live under the same roof as their offenders and are unable or too afraid to call the police. The increase in domestic violence cases has also been reported in other countries. In France, for example, authorities reported a 36% increase in the domestic violence crimes in Paris and 32% increase across the rest of the country. In Turkey, the killing of women has sharply increased since the stay-at-home orders in the country were issued. In Australia, Google reported a 75% increase in online searches related to domestic violence.

How are countries responding to the increase in domestic violence cases? Governments around the world were urged by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, to “make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plan to COVID-19.” In the U.S., the CARES Act sets aside $45 million dollars to support family violence prevention services and law enforcement agencies and hotlines continue to provide resources to victims. In France, the government announced that it will provide hotel rooms for domestic violence victims, in addition to opening up counseling centers at supermarkets. In both France and Spain, victims are able to go to pharmacies and use a code word in order to seek help. In Australia, the government has promised a total of $91 millions to help address the problem.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.

The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Law Enforcement Agencies Are Reporting Increases in Domestic Violence Cases Amid Stay-At-Home Orders



  • Writing: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted domestic violence victims?
  • Debate: The COVID-19 pandemic has made domestic violence survivors more vulnerable.
  • Poll: Do you believe that the government is providing enough resources to support domestic violence victims during the pandemic?
  • Short Answer: Why does domestic violence go under reported

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