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May 13, 2021

Domestic homicides surge in Philadelphia, up more than 100% from last year

The Philadelphia Domestic Violence hotline can be reached toll-free at 866-723-3014

Crime Domestic Violence
Domestic Homicides surge in Philly Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Domestic homicides are rising at alarming rates in Philadelphia. Compared to last year's numbers, reported cases have risen by 138%.

Amid a crippling gun violence crisis, city officials say the domestic homicide rate in Philadelphia has skyrocketed by more than 100% so far this year.

To date, the city has seen 19 domestic homicides, up 138% from last year's total reported cases, city officials said at the bi-weekly gun violence briefing.

Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Altovise Love-Craighead said the city has already surpassed last year's total of 18 domestic homicides. 

At last week's briefing on April 28, Mayor Jim Kenney said that domestic violence homicides were up 100%, meaning in just two weeks, rates rose an additional 34%.

The economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely one of the causes in this surge, a report out of Temple University found. The pandemic worsened poverty, unemployment and structural racism that "are empirically tied to violence in Philadelphia," the study said.

The pandemic also impacted Philadelphia's usual outreach efforts, officials said. 

"Community engagement is a crucial component to successful community policing," Love-Craighead said. "Unfortunately, COVID has put a lot of restrictions on how we can engage with our community."

The Philadelphia Police Department hosted a series of webinars on domestic violence in March that were viewed more than 20,000 times, WHYY reported. Police officials said as restrictions ease in the city, they will increase outreach efforts to address the alarming rise in violence.

PPD partnered with Women Against Abuse to provide officers with trauma response training and how to help victims of sexual assault. 

This rise in domestic violence is not exclusive to Philadelphia. Surveys around the world showed spikes in domestic abuse since the start of 2020, Time reported. Domestic violence rates in San Antonio rose 18%, and 22% in Portland, Ore., according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

"What the data has shown is there is a strong relationship between the shutdown and increased violence. This is a problem that is being experienced in many major cities throughout the country," said Love-Craighead.

This news comes as gun violence surges in Philadelphia for the second year in a row. Shootings are up 41% this year, and overall homicides are 34% higher than last year's already high numbers. 

In 2020, there were a total of 499 homicides, the vast majority of which were shooting-related deaths.

Domestic violence resources:

The toll-free Philadelphia Domestic Violence hotline: Call 866-723-3014.

Women Against Abuse’s legal center: 215-686-7082. They offer help with filing protection from abuse orders and child support.

Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741 

National Parent Hotline: call 1-855-427-2736

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline : Call 1-800-422-4453)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Text LOVEIS to 22522, or call 1-800-799-7233 

Futures Without Violence 

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