A shootout between police and a hostage situation is shedding light on the growing domestic violence problem in Arizona. Here’s what you should know.
Over the course of ten hours, Tucson police received a domestic violence call that ended with a standoff and two casualties. Brandon Michael Watts shot himself after killing his girlfriend and fled to a hotel where he held a visitor hostage along with her four children.
The officers told journalists that Flor Del Mar Hernandez Tapia was already dead when they arrived at the scene, and another woman was severely injured. This isn’t the first call of its kind to result in fatalities.
Police have been concerned over the rise in fatal domestic violence cases since 2019. According to data, domestic violence arrests multiplied exponentially, going from 190 arrests in 2019 to over 348 in 2020. This year, AZ police have arrested over 253 people, which is nearly 5% above the record for last year around this time.
The concern for many in the community is the volume of calls and the result of the violence. Over the past two and a half years, abuse victims have been critically injured or worse, with no end in sight in many of these cases.
Why Is This Happening?
One possible reason for the rise in domestic violence is the COVID-19 pandemic. Police departments and shelters are concerned that with stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, more victims were locked in with their abusers, which only escalated later on.
On the other hand, shelters like New Life Center hope the public will understand that the pandemic did not cause domestic violence – it only accentuated it. The more pressing issue is the fact that many victims are unable to seek help while stuck in the same household as their abuser.
Work from home has been a blessing for most, but having their abuser at home more often makes freedom nearly impossible for victims of abuse. Shelters are adding beds as victims begin to pour in now that some pandemic restrictions are lifted.
However, seeking help for themselves and their families is still complicated for many victims. The fear and shame they feel are hard to combat even when their lives may be at risk. Advocates hope to fix that by improving accessibility and education so victims of abuse can get the help they desperately need.
While it’s a fact that domestic abuse victims suffer immense trauma because of their abusers, some individuals may be ostracized from society because of false accusations.
A study by the Center for Prosecutor Integrity found that over 20 million Americans have been falsely accused of domestic abuse. This staggering number of innocent people forced to go through court hearings for crimes they didn’t commit shows how complicated domestic violence cases can be.
Not only are there innumerable cases of actual abuse, but some people use domestic violence as a way to gain sympathy, child custody, or financial benefits. Not only does this destroy the lives of the alleged abusers, but it also muddies the waters for actual victims.
Every false domestic violence call is police resources and tax dollars that don’t go to helping victims get out of their situation. This, along with the fact that Arizona is one of the worst states for domestic violence, means that more than ever, law enforcement should be able to help those suffering from abuse.
There’s no time to handle false accusations. Thousands of victims like Flor Del Mar Hernandez Tapia die every year due to domestic violence, and their loved ones are forced to carry on without them.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, don’t hesitate to contact Territorial Law, LLC.