The headline was stark and disturbing: “Domestic Violence deaths up 140% in 2020 so far.”
The news that the city of Phoenix, where I have resided almost 30 years, has seen 24 deaths due to domestic violence – compared with ten this time last year – is frightening, but sadly not the least bit surprising. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to stay at home. Imagine now that the person you are confined with is one intent on inflicting bodily harm.
Our current state of lockdown remains a struggle where people are exasperated by the sameness of every day. Add to that the anxiety over lost jobs, rent and mortgage payments, school closures, and a future that remains uncertain. Abusers need someone on whom to take out their frustrations, perhaps in an effort to regain control. In the best of times, these people harm those they are purported to love. These are not the best of times.
Before the pandemic, processes were in place to identify people – primarily women and children – who might be suffering at the hands of a “loved one,” though I use that term loosely. As a teacher of 20 years, one of my responsibilities was to keep watch for children who might be suffering abuse at home. In fact, as an educator, like medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and social workers among others, my failure to report suspected abuse could land me a six-month stay in jail, a fine of $1,000, or both.