There were five domestic violence-related homicides in Alaska's remote western villages over the past 10 days. "All were in communities with no local protection from domestic violence and where pandemic travel restrictions have limited access to services," according to the Anchorage Daily News. These communities together have less than 1,800 inhabitants. The state as a whole saw calls to domestic violence shelters increase by 52% in the first five weeks after the state declared a public health disaster on March 11, 2020. At the same time, the shelters had to reduce capacity by almost 60% social distancing.
At the national level, an analysis by the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice estimated that domestic violence incidents increased 8.1% during lockdowns. This was based on a review of studies in the US and internationally. Alex Piquero, chairman of the Institute of Sociology at the University of Miami and lead author of the analysis, told CNN that the result, while "striking", did not reflect the scope of the problem. "In my eyes, I think 8% is a floor and not a ceiling," said Piquero. "I think the problem is actually worse than we currently know."
As with everything else in this pandemic, people of color were more affected than whites. "While one in three white women reports having experienced domestic violence (during the pandemic), the abuse rate for those marginalized by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status and cognitive physical condition has skyrocketed about 50% and more ability, "Erika Sussman, executive director of the Center for Survivor Advocacy and Justice (CSAJ), a support and research organization, told Time.
In one city in America, Baltimore, the number of cases has increased by 30%. Valerie Weird, a forensic nurse and domestic violence program coordinator at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, said, "She and her colleagues have seen more injuries from strangulation and assault. Patients have suffered cerebral haemorrhage and broken orbital bones around the eye, and they have increasingly told her that they were threatened with a weapon. "
"The pandemic has really highlighted and exacerbated the issues that survivors have long been grappling with," Janice Miller, director of Survivor Engagement and Stability Services at Ruth Maryland's home, told the Baltimore Sun. She described how survivors were trapped by both the locks and their abusers who controlled money, food, access to family, friends, employment, technology – everything. "We adapted very early to meet some of these basic needs."
The Biden government's response is exactly what the authors of the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ) have called for. "Policymakers and researchers should work to better understand the impact of the pandemic and allocate additional resources to domestic abuse prevention and victim services, especially those who are most isolated and at risk," said Thomas Abt, Director of the NCCCJ. in a statement.
That's COVID-19 stimulus funding that could help save lives across the board. It is such funding that is being held in reserve for needs uncovered by the pandemic and that some lawmakers see as a pot of funding that they can use for other purposes. Like infrastructure. And it's not just Republicans who want to steal these funds.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is at odds with a handful of Republicans, including Rob Portman and Mitt Romney, over this elusive bipartisan infrastructure plan, and they want to use untapped stimulus funds. These are funds that could be earmarked in the future for programs such as domestic violence grants. This is a completely unnecessary deficit pampering that any self-respecting Democrat does not want to be a part of. However, whether Manchin qualifies as one of these things is increasingly becoming a question.