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Is the COVID-19 Shutdown Causing an Increase in Domestic Violence?

Media reports indicate an increase in domestic violence calls in countries around the world and in some SC counties during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Where are domestic violence incidents increasing and why? What should you do if you are charged with domestic violence during the coronavirus emergency in SC?

Increase in Domestic Violence Worldwide During Coronavirus Shutdown

There has been an increased concern about domestic violence issues as countries around the world have issued stay at home or shelter in place orders during the COVID-19 emergency. Media reports indicate that there has been an increase in domestic violence calls around the world...

In France, domestic violence victims were told to go to the drugstore - one of the few places people can still visit outside of their homes - and say the codeword "mask 19" to the pharmacist if they need help escaping domestic violence:

So France, inspired by a similar scheme in Spain, has started telling victims to head to drugstores. If they can't talk openly in the store, they can simply say the codeword "mask 19" to the pharmacist behind the counter.

That could be effective, assuming the abuser doesn't also watch the news... France has reported a 36% increase in domestic violence calls during the shutdown:

Christophe Castaner, the French Interior Minister, said there had been a 36% increase in police intervention for cases of domestic violence in Paris after the lockdown measures were enacted.

Australia has reported a 75% increase in searches for "domestic violence help" since the start of the shutdown, the highest number in the past five years:

And the problem isn't limited to Europe. In Australia, the government said that Google has registered the most searches for domestic violence help in the past five years during the outbreak, with an increase of 75%.

On the other hand, a domestic violence helpline in Italy says it received 55% fewer calls in the first half of March, "because many women found it difficult to ask for help during the lockdown."

The Telefono Rosa domestic violence helpline in Italy said it received 55% fewer calls in the first two weeks of March because many women found it difficult to ask for help during the lockdown. It said many women are "whispering to avoid being heard by their partner in the room next-door." Delphine Beauvais, the director of a women's shelter network Rosa in the north of France, told CNN the organization is experiencing a similar drop in calls: "We believe this could be due to women's inability to reach out to us as a consequence of confinement."

What about here in SC?

Is There an Increase in Domestic Violence in SC During Coronavirus Shutdown

The best indicator of an increase in domestic violence cases is probably the number of calls that law enforcement receives, and several counties have said publicly that they are seeing an increase in the number of domestic violence calls.

In some counties, this may be supported by a slight increase in the number of domestic violence arrests recorded on the public index...

Increase in Domestic Violence Calls in Florence, SC

The Florence County Sheriff's Office has reported a 30% increase in domestic violence calls (but not necessarily arrests), and they are "placing deputies in hot spot areas where calls are more frequent:"

As many people are practicing social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, it has produced an increase in domestic violence calls in Florence County, according to the sheriff's office.

Florence County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Glen Kirby said there's been a roughly 30% increase in domestic violence calls compared to this time last year...

He said the crisis has created some challenges for his deputies when responding to domestic violence calls because they can no longer separate both parties by asking one to leave the home and find another place to stay.

Increase in Domestic Violence Calls in Charleston, SC

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office has also reported an increase in domestic violence calls:

Authorities say they've received an increase in domestic violence calls this month. That's according to the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office said it had just over 60 domestic calls in January and is expecting close to 70 or 80 by the end of the month of March as the coronavirus continues to impact our daily lives.

"We're prepared for it. We're somewhat expecting that they will increase. There are so many factors to why they would increase," said Charleston County Sheriff's Office Captain Roger Antonio.

Complicating matters for local enforcement, some domestic violence shelters have closed due to the coronavirus emergency:

My Sister's House closed its emergency shelter because of the coronavirus. We're told everyone has been relocated to another safe space. Connors said right now, they are focused on clinical work with therapists over the phone.

Increase in Domestic Violence in Myrtle Beach

Is there an increase in domestic violence in Myrtle Beach during the COVID-19 crisis?

Maybe, but officials have not said so as far as I've seen. The City of Myrtle Beach did report an increase in domestic violence calls last October, before the coronavirus shutdown:

"We were going from one to two cases a week and now we're up to six or seven cases a week-- and it continues rising," says Michele Paitsel, a domestic violence officer with the Myrtle Beach Police Dept.

It makes sense that there would be an increase in conflict among spouses and family members as routines are shattered, family members are forced to spend more time in their homes, people lose their incomes, and some turn to alcohol or drugs to manage stress.

If you are experiencing domestic violence during the shutdown, call a friend, call family members, or call a domestic violence helpline to find a safe place to go. Call law enforcement if necessary and if a crime was committed.

If you are experiencing high stress, arguments with your spouse or family, and you are having a difficult time coping, though, do not call the police. Walk outside, walk away, go to a friend or family member's house (the governor's work or home order does not contemplate the risk of family or spousal conflict as a result of home confinement), and do not turn to alcohol or drugs.

If you find yourself accused of domestic violence in the Myrtle Beach area, get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Got Axelrod?

If you have been charged with domestic violence in SC, you need an attorney on your side immediately who will investigate your case, gather evidence, and do everything legally and ethically possible to get your case dismissed or win it at trial.

Call Axelrod and Associates now at (843) 916-9300 or email us to talk with a Myrtle Beach, SC domestic violence defense attorney today.

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