Phoenix Police, local advocates team up to stop surge of domestic violence

(Facebook photo/Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence)

PHOENIX — As coronavirus cases continue to increase throughout Arizona, so too are reports of domestic abuse.

In March, the Phoenix Police Department saw calls domestic violence-related calls rise by more than 5% year-over-year. In the first two weeks of April, that number jumped to 15%.

In response, the Phoenix Police Department, the City of Phoenix Family Advocacy Center and the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence have teamed up with the launch of a new campaign: “Domestic Violence Help!”

Due to the stay at home order and others restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, the coalition has created a hotline and website that serves as a hub of information for victims of domestic abuse.

Doreen Nicholas, domestic violence response manager for Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that despite the coronavirus outbreak, the resources available to domestic violence victims are numerous.

“It [coronavirus] has changed the way we do outreach and the way we do services,” She said.

“But the services, safety and shelter are still there.”

The campaign includes the following resources:

  • Family Advocacy Center & Other Regional Advocacy Centers.
  • Online resources at Phoenix.gov/DomesticViolence
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7): 800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence: acesdv.org.

While the causes of domestic violence are as varied as the individuals involved, the city of Phoenix believes the following risk factors are increasing due to COVID-19:

  • Stay at home orders and social isolation putting potential abusers and their victims in closer proximity.
  • Victims lacking an active support system of family and friends.
  • Economic fears adding increased stress to both abusers and their potential victims.
  • Abusers using coronavirus fears to exercise control over their victims.
  • Victims worrying that shelters or other resources aren’t available because of COVID closures.

“Going through an abusive situation is isolating as it is,” said Kimberley Catalano, a domestic abuse survivor.

“But to also have that magnified by being told by the outside world that you can’t leave your home … The feeling of hopeless must be overwhelming.”