As it has been for the last three decades, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
While there is an increased attention on physical and psychological harm done by partners or family members, that does not mean it is under control.
Indeed, the closures and stay-home measures may be contributing to an increase in domestic violence.
According to Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel, “There has been a dramatic increase in submittals of domestic violence-related homicides and attempted homicides.”
From January through June, MCAO received 32 reports from local law enforcement agencies for domestic violence-related homicides or attempted homicide. That was twice the number compared to the same time period in 2019.
“This spike is alarming,” Adel said. “The impact that this pandemic has had on victims of domestic violence is real.”
Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat strongly agreed.
“This pandemic has amplified the horrors of domestic violence,” Carlat said. “Stressors such as isolation, changes to employment, finances and uncertainty about the future have intensified the use of violence and limited the ability of victims to keep themselves safe. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we acknowledge the devastation caused by this violence and we acknowledge the resources that are here for victims. We want all families to know that the Peoria Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program is here to support victims of domestic violence so they don’t have to fight this violence alone.”
In Peoria, “The Victim Assistance Unit exists to provide services to all victims of crime,” according to the Peoria Police Department website.
“Victims may file a complaint with the Peoria Police Department in person or online at peoriaaz.gov.”
The police also provide phone numbers for domestic violence shelters, including:
• Faith House, 623-939-6798.
• Chrysalis, 602-944-4999.
• Eve’s Place, 623-537-5380.
• Domestic Violence Shelter Hotline, 602-263-8900.
Through the pandemic, the Glendale Police Department answered heightened domestic violence calls.
“Across the board we’re seeing more violence,” Glendale Detective Brian Draper said in a video posted on the Glendale Police Department Facebook page.
“The (domestic violence) cases we’re getting are much more violent—a lot more shootings, a lot more strangulations, a lot more stabbings. A lot more serious felonies versus what we’ve seen typically in the past.”
He noted domestic violence typically rises toward the end of summer, when people are confined indoors by the weather.
“This pandemic is contributing to that, because people are penned up,” Draper said. “This year it seems like it’s much more violent.”
The numbers back that up.
In the first half of 2020, as the pandemic closed down much of the city, Glendale police made five arrests for domestic violence-related homicides.
In May, Brandon Kimbell allegedly murdered his roommate, Brittany Hand, at the Paseo Park Apartments on Thunderbird Road in northeast Glendale, near Peoria.
Kimbell allegedly told police he was kicking Hand out of the apartment and throwing clothes at her when she went to pick up clothing, slipped and hit the floor.
“He found out (Hand) cheated on him and he became jealous and punched her in the head causing her to fall on the floor and have a seizure. He further described kicking the victim while she was on the floor,” the arrest report said.
And, according to the arrest report, Kimbell “placed his foot on her throat cutting off her airway until she stopped breathing.”
Kimbell faces first-degree murder charges.
Victim Safety Plan
The Peoria Police Department provides ideas for a “Victim Safety Plan,” including:
•Consider obtaining an Order of Protection against the perpetrator. Always make sure that the order is kept current and that it includes all necessary locations.
•Submit a recent photograph of the batterer to the appropriate office personnel where you work.
•An updated emergency contact person should be identified and your employer notified of this charge.
•Keep emergency number(s).
•If possible, have your calls screened and recorded.
•Consider changing your pattern of getting to and from work. Take various routes to everyday locations.
•Tell a trusted co-worker, friend, supervisor and ask for help.
•Report all incidents of abuse, harassment and violations of your Order of Protection to the police. Always request that a report be made by law enforcement when a violation has occurred.
•Create a safety plan for home and work.
•Always carry a copy of your Order of Protection and Affidavit of Service.
•Document every incident/occurrence: time, date, location, etc.
Domestic violence statistics
The national 24-hour domestic violence hotline is 800-799-7233 (SAFE).
The West Valley’s largest domestic violence shelter is New Life Center, 623-932-4404.
Eve’s Place, a domestic violence shelter in Peoria, can be reached at 623-537-5380.
The Maricopa County DV hotline is 480-890-3039.
Adel’s county office gives a definition of what can lead to a number of other crimes:
“Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors where one person uses their power to control the other. While frequency and severity can vary dramatically in each situation, one consistent component is abusers will try to maintain power and control over their partner. It is not isolated to any one gender, race, or economic situation. Domestic violence can be hard to identify because it can take many forms, including verbal, physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse.”
As the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence notes, “Domestic violence is not physical violence alone. Domestic violence is any behavior the purpose of which is to gain power and control over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend or intimate family member. Abuse is a learned behavior; it is not caused by anger, mental problems, drugs or alcohol, or other common excuses.
One in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
•On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
•1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking.
•1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
•1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.
•1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.
•1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
•1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
•On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
•Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.