The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of many businesses in Colorado and throughout the nation. Add to that shelter-in-place orders forcing families to remain isolated in their homes.
Many feared that the combination of jobless Colorado residents, combined with cabin fever, would lead to serious and potentially violent mental health issues. The smallest of disputes between couples could escalate and result in domestic violence.
Stay-at-home mandates are now in the past. Life is slowly returning to normal. People are getting out of the house and getting back to work. While it may take years for the final numbers to come out, local and national experts did not see the spike in domestic violence criminal cases that they predicted.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office speculated that the unprecedented activity in the trails and parks during the shutdown played a role in relieving inter-family tension. Case managers also took proactive steps to check in with people they have encountered in previous domestic violence incidents.
Calls Versus Cases
However, fewer cases did not mean fewer people were reaching out to law enforcement. In March, deputies saw a 93% increase in domestic violence calls from 2019. April saw a 24 percent jump during the same time period. However, the actual cases filed are slightly down from last year. This year saw 39 compared to 46 in the previous, non-pandemic year.
Some fear that alleged victims tolerated physical abuse to avoid leaving their houses and contracting COVID-19. Also, economic conditions at home made leaving an abusive environment unaffordable, mainly if they are on their spouse’s insurance plan.
Final numbers are years away in telling the whole story about domestic violence during a pandemic.