Domestic Violence Awareness Month & COVID-19
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, making it a critical time to discuss the alarming rates of domestic violence in King County and Seattle altogether. Domestic violence in the State of Washington is not new, as it has been deemed an “epidemic” for a while. When COVID-19 forced people to stay at home, however, the crime of domestic violence accelerated to record levels.
As such, let’s look at the numbers:
- 13 domestic violence homicide deaths happened in King County during the first nine months of 2020, 12 of which happened during COVID-19
- 28 violent domestic violence-related deaths occurred in King County during the first nine months of 2020
- This statistic includes murder-suicides and other homicides committed by convicted domestic violence offenders
- 186 felony domestic violence cases were filed in March 2020 alone, which exceeds the monthly average of 150 cases
- Domestic violence cases comprised 34% of the Superior Court caseload between March and April of 2020, whereas they accounted for 22% in April 2019
- Within 24 hours, 10 domestic violence suspects went to jail and five new felony charges were filed in April 2020
- A Bellevue Police spokesperson reported a 30% increase in violence since COVID-19
- They also reported a 28% increase in felony assaults and a 17% increase in misdemeanor assaults
- Between March and July of this year, 985 online petitions for emergency protection orders were filed
As you can imagine, COVID-19 has placed extreme hardships on individuals and families alike. The pandemic has not only burdened our economy and public health but also caused increased isolation and stress. Millions of Americans are unemployed, quarantined, infected with COVID-19 and adjusting to virtual learning and working from home, for instance. This is why it is disturbing yet not surprising that domestic violence rates have sharply increased in Washington and throughout the nation.
Victims are forced to stay home and risk exposure to violence by their perpetrators, making them feel like there is no way out. With tensions so high this year, it is crucial to be mindful of the following points to best avoid a domestic violence conviction:
- Domestic violence is not just physical. According to the WSCADV, it can also include:
- isolation from friends and family
- emotional abuse
- financial control
- physical and sexual assault
- King County domestic violence victims can file for an emergency protection order (EPO) by phone or email rather than going to court, so you may get an unwelcome surprise from your alleged victim
- If you get an EPO against you, do not break the rules or respond in a way that may be perceived as domestic violence
- Heated arguments can be wrongfully perceived as domestic violence
- You may be wrongfully charged with domestic violence due to a spiteful ex or intimate partner
- It is vital to hire a Seattle criminal defense attorney if a protective order or domestic violence charge was filed against you
Facing Domestic Violence Charges? Let a Former Prosecutor Fight for You.
Over the past 17 years in the legal profession, I have handled countless serious and complex domestic violence cases. Never have I seen such a high rate of domestic violence incidents reported in a short period of time, but I understand that COVID-19 can bring out the worst in people, both in reported domestic violence victims and abusers.
Like I mentioned above, false domestic violence charges as well as mere accidents can occur. But that does not mean your freedom and future should suffer. Everyone makes mistakes but also deserves a second chance, and I am here to fight for that possibility on your behalf.