Crime was down around 80% over the weekend as people stayed indoors due to Covid-19, with one glaring exception: domestic violence.
Eleven of the 19 people booked were charged with crimes related to domestic violence, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
“Obviously, crime has gone down unbelievably, but we’re not seeing that on the domestic violence front,” District Attorney John J. Flynn said. “You’re seeing the majority of the cases being domestic violence.
“On the other hand, we’re not seeing a dramatic increase in domestic violence.”
The violent incidents occurred between Friday evening and Sunday. Charges ranged from assault and criminal obstruction of breathing to menacing and harassment.
Counselors warn that being indoors for an extended period of time can create a dangerous situation for people who live with their abusers. It makes it harder for a victim to call for help, reach out to others or leave. It also prevents or minimizes contact with others who could notify authorities.
Since March 16, 76 domestic violence-related arrests have occurred throughout Erie County, an average of 19 a week. There were 916 domestic violence cases in 2019, an average of 17 a week.
“My fear is that that number is going to continue to rise as we are staying at our homes longer,” Flynn said. “And that number is pretty much not going down like the rest of crime is, and that concerns me as well.”
He said studies have shown that a leading cause for disputes is money.
“The longer our economy is on hold, and the more that people are economically stressed along with staying at home is a recipe for a domestic violence disaster,” he said.
The Erie County 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline is 716-862-HELP. The 24-hour Crisis Services’ hotline to talk to a trained counselor is 716-834-3131.