COVID-19 and the Rising Domestic Violence Rates Following Families’ Self Isolation

Domestic violence is an ever-present and growing problem in the United States. There are a number of factors that may lead to domestic violence, including financial insecurity, marital strife, and the day to day problems associated with living together. As difficult as these issues may be to handle under normal circumstances, the forced isolation and quarantine in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are likely to make these situations much worse.

In a step to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, on March 27, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper announced that all of North Carolina would be under a “Stay-at-Home Order” for, at least, thirty days (currently until April 29, 2020). This Stay-at-Home Order allows “essential businesses” to continue to operate while prioritizing “social distancing” measures and restricting the size of any gatherings to no more than 10 people.

When people are forced together for extended periods of time, like they have been due to COVID-19 and the social distancing measures, they are at risk of being trapped in abusive situations, with less opportunities to access assistance. This “ intimate terrorism ” affects children no less than adults. While these social-distancing measures have been necessary to combat the virus, they have also lead to less available resources, fewer opportunities for time alone, and higher tensions in the home.

There is generally an “uptick” in reported domestic violence after long weekends or holidays, due to the same factors. Many fear we will see much worse due to this prolonged shutdown. We have already seen a surge in cases of domestic violence worldwide and have no reason to think it will not occur in the United States as well.

Seeking a Domestic Violence Protective Order (50-B)

In order to seek a protective order under North Carolina law, you must have a personal relationship with the accused party. The statute provides that you and the accused party must be current or former spouses, live together, have children together, have been members of the same family, had romantic involvement, or be related as parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren.

In order to obtain a protective order, the accuser must prove that the accused has attempted to cause bodily injury that has placed the accuser in imminent fear of serious injury or has committed an actual act of violence.

A protective order can be exceptionally helpful because it forces the accused party to stay away from his or her victims and can also require the accused party to leave the household.

To read more about Domestic Violence, the procedure by which a party obtains a 50B, and enforcement or restraining orders, click here.

Violation of Domestic Violence Protective Order (50-B)

Violating a Domestic Violence Protective Order is an offense that prosecutors around North Carolina take very seriously. Those charged with this offense need to understand that just because the person who has the protective order does not want to press charges does not mean that the state will simply drop the charge against the defendant.

A very typical example of a domestic violence protective order violation scenario is where a girlfriend obtains a protective order against the boyfriend. A few days, weeks or months later, the couple reunites, but the protective order is never dropped. One day the couple has a fight, and the girlfriend charges the boyfriend with violating the protective order, even though the girlfriend may have been initiating contact with the boyfriend. That young man is now likely to be convicted of violating a domestic violence protective order. Any contact during the time a protective order is in place will get you in trouble, and this charge is an A1 misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to 150 days.

There are numerous resources available to victims of domestic violence. In North Carolina, excellent resources include:

  • The Shelter for Battered Women - 704-332-2513
  • The Women's Commission - 704-336-3210
  • United Family Services - 704-332-9034
  • Legal Services of Southern Piedmont - 704-376-1600

If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship, it is important to contact these resources and others in order to receive the help and counseling you may need.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we have attorneys who practice in civil and criminal law. Not only can we help you get a 50B or defend against one being entered against you, but we also have experienced criminal defense attorneys who can defend against any additional complications which may arise. Contact Us today to get the help you need with Domestic Violence Protective Orders.