A Perfect Storm That Will Last Longer Than Coronavirus: COVID-19 And Its Effect On Domestic Violence

I have heard many people joke about the stressors and anxiety imposed by the evolving COVID-19 environment.  Being in confined quarters with our family can be both a delight and a bit of a pressure cooker.  The reality is that the anxiety and uncertainty of our current COVID-19 induced environment affects everyone in different ways.

Since March 24, those of us whose jobs are “non-essential” in New Mexico have been ordered to stay at home to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  It has set up a situation where domestic violence allegations may be more common.  Everchanging emergency orders, guidelines, layoffs, furloughs, less income, and more stress compound the problems families already face.

New Mexico Domestic Violence Statistics

Every day there are domestic violence charges filed in New Mexico.  Domestic violence allegations have only increased since the stay at home order.   Several New Mexico law enforcement agencies have reported an increase in Domestic Violence calls.  This is a common and recurring theme not only locally, but nationally.  

NBC News received information from 18 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. Many reported an increase in domestic violence calls in March. 

  • Cherokee County, South Carolina: 35%
  • Houston, Texas: 20%
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina: 18%
  • Phoenix, Arizona: 6%

Police in Cincinnati, Denver, New Orleans, and New York City reported that their rates of domestic violence calls and arrests remained flat through March.

Domestic Abuse Shelters Face Tough Challenges

Victims’ rights advocates and police blame the increase in violence on the stress from businesses and schools closing, more people are out of work and financially unprepared for a long stretch of unemployment. 

While domestic violence may increase, domestic abuse shelters are facing tougher challenges. 

  • Fundraisers have been postponed, so finances are limited
  • There’s an increase in demand for shelter space
  • To avoid possibly spreading the coronavirus, shelter residents need to be farther apart

The National Domestic Violence Hotline states its call volume has been about average for March, between 1,800 and 2,000 per day. During the second half of the month, 1,765 callers said their abusive partners were using the coronavirus as an excuse to isolate them or increase fear in the relationships.

How New Mexico Defines Domestic Violence

New Mexico’s Crimes Against Household Members Act makes it illegal to assault or commit a battery against a member of your household. That can include a:

  • Spouse 
  • Former spouse
  • Parent
  • Present or former stepparent
  • Present or former parent-in-law
  • Grandparent
  • Grandparent-in-law 
  • Co-parent of a child, or a person with whom you have a dating or intimate relationship

If convicted, you face a possible sentence of jail time, fines, costs, mandatory counseling, and you may also be unable to possess a firearm or ammunition, making it impossible to maintain or start careers in law enforcement or the military. You might also face a civil domestic violence restraining order which could limit your rights as a parent and homeowner.

If you are under stress and your relationships are suffering, violence will only make a bad situation worse. The consequences of a criminal conviction will last much longer than this coronavirus crisis.

Call Grano Law Offices, P.C. for a Free Strategy Session

If you are facing domestic abuse criminal charges, as a former New Mexico prosecutor, I have the knowledge, insight, and confidence to help you navigate the criminal justice system and put you in the best position possible. You can reach out to my office today for an initial strategy session. Request yours today by calling (505) 587-8649. Or you can complete my convenient and secure contact form.


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