State and Federal Prosecutors announce online domestic violence campaign

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Prosecutors across the state Thursday announced a joint online outreach campaign intended to help victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign includes a video public service announcement and public awareness messages posted on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms with a new post each day for one week.

The posts provide information for victims with resources, such as 24- hour hotlines, vital to reporting abuse. They also provide tips for concerned friends, relatives and educators on how they can help victims of abuse.

Announced Thursday in a virtual news conference, the outreach campaign was created to combat an unintended consequence of COVID-19 public health measures — an alarming rise in domestic violence with victims trapped at home with their abusers under increasing stress.

“These unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic appear to have unleashed more domestic violence in the home with victims feeling trapped with their abusive partner and children as collateral victims,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.

“We want victims to know that they are not alone and our DA Victim Services, local and national organizations and law enforcement continue to be ready, despite the pandemic, to help them get to safety and give them the help and resources they need.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has reported an increase in contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports show that physicians are treating more domestic violence injuries and that they are more severe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in six homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence indicate that one in three female murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

In San Diego County, domestic violence incidents were up through the first six months of 2020, with 8,495 incidents reported this year, compared to 8,235 in the first half of 2019, according to statistics from the San Diego Association of Governments.

Southern District of California U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said the data showed notable increases in domestic violence cases in Santee, El Cajon and National City.

“Domestic violence plays a significant role in how we prioritize federal prosecutions,” Brewer said. “We frequently consider past domestic violence arrests and convictions in both firearms and immigration prosecutions.

“That type of criminal history serves as a possible indication of anger and impulse control issues, which makes a defendant a larger threat to public safety, especially when a firearm is present. As a result, the Department of Justice has urged all U.S. attorneys to aggressively prosecute firearms violations in order to disrupt the escalating cycle of violence.”

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