Domestic violence cases on the rise since COVID-19 pandemic began

The spike in domestic violence incidents is a concern for advocates who are reminding people that while there are mandates in place during this pandemic, shelters for help are still open.

"Depends on who is counting ... either way, you are seeing an increase over time, but not a spike like this," said Jenna Panas, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.

A spike in domestic violence calls has advocates pointing the finger at COVID-19.

Statewide, there is a 16% increase in domestic violence calls from last year, according to Panas.

"Isolation helps ... that is a frequent tactic used by individuals to control a partner ... to keep them away from family, friends, coworkers and family ... and COVID really helps that by naturally creating a situation and kept away," Panas said.

Over the Sept. 26 - 27 weekend, police say there were two domestic violence-related killings in the Valley.

A murder-suicide in Phoenix where a 40-year-old woman was shot and killed by her husband moments after police left her home. Her husband then turned the gun on himself.

"The woman was scared and called the police, which is what we recommended ... to call for assistance because you can't handle on your own and get to safety," Panas said.

Then another incident in Mesa where a woman was shot by her husband, who then attempted to take his own life. He is currently hospitalized in critical condition and will face charges.

Experts urge anyone in an abusive situation to come up with an escape plan.

"We recommend going somewhere that's [open] 24 hours in order to seek safety or going to family or friends, but you can't judge every circumstance by this one action," Panas explained.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, advocates say there is help out there:

AZ Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence:

  • 602-279-2900 (local)
  • 800-782-6400 (toll-free)

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line)

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.