The Surge of Alcohol and Domestic Related Incidents Since COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, life in Florida, much like the rest of the world, turned upside down. Everyone was advised to stay at home, face masks became a common sight, and video calls turned into the go-to communication method. Adjustment for many to this new norm was difficult, and, as a result, another crisis was silently brewing behind closed doors. Increased time at home seemed to shorten tempers and ignite domestic disputes. And what added fuel to the fire? Alcohol.
Recent statistics paint a grim picture, as it shows a significant rise in domestic violence incidents in Florida since the pandemic set in. However, Florida cannot attribute this solely to the lockdown restrictions. The real issue stems from heightened stress and increased alcohol use.
There is a Link Between Alcohol, Domestic Violence, and COVID-19
Alcohol is a substance commonly known for reducing inhibitions, impairing judgment, and heightening aggression. In other words, it can quickly become a recipe for disaster when combined with pent-up frustrations lurking in the background. However, alcohol does not necessarily create violence, it acts as a catalyst in an already precarious situation where home may already be struggling with rising tension, frustration, or discord. Alcohol can stoke the flames, turning smoldering embers into a roaring fire.
According to researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, households dealing with chronic alcohol abuse have higher odds of heated arguments turning violent. Alcohol, in addition to underlying factors such as stress, socioeconomic problems, mental health issues, and a history of violence, sets the stage for an explosive reaction.
When COVID-19 burst onto the scene, life as we knew it took a sharp turn. Suddenly, homes transformed from safe havens into pressure cookers. The safety measures, while necessary, required everyone to be cooped up all day, every day, with no relief in sight. Add in the constant worry of a global pandemic, job losses, and economic uncertainty. Stores began to see a significant increase in alcohol purchases as many sought solace at the bottom of a bottle. For those already walking on eggshells around an abusive partner, this was a nightmare scenario, and numerous domestic violence hotlines in Florida were impacted with increased calls in comparison to previous years.
Florida’s Legal Response to Increased Alcohol and Domestic Violence
Domestic violence in Florida includes such charges as assault, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking, or any other criminal offense that results in physical injury or death of a family or household member residing in the same single dwelling unit. Penalties for domestic violence can vary greatly depending on the specific nature of the offense but typically will include jail time, fines, probation, and mandatory batterer’s intervention programs. Further, if a person is found guilty of a domestic violence charge and it is determined that the person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offense, this can lead to more severe penalties, including mandatory substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
With the law in Florida already having a strong stance against domestic violence and alcohol, the spike in cases during the pandemic resulted in the state re-evaluating its laws to focus more on how they could help the victims. The ultimate goal was to ensure the safety of victims and to provide them an avenue to reach out for help, despite the lockdown restrictions. Court systems were quick to adapt, moving to virtual platforms to keep the wheels of justice turning. Injunctions for protection, also known as restraining orders, were able to be issued regardless of the lockdown.
Efforts were added to law enforcement training, aiming to better equip officers to handle domestic violence calls in this unprecedented scenario. The goal of these measures was to ensure individuals were able to access the required assistance. Officials in Florida worked to create hotlines that operated around the clock, as well as set up shelters that offer a safe haven.
Several organizations have moved to offer pro bono services to help victims navigate the legal minefield. From filing for restraining orders to navigating custody issues. There are also a great number of organizations offering counseling services, job training, and support groups to help survivors get back on their feet. These resources provide a ray of hope and a chance to start anew. Further, advocacy groups have been pounding the pavement, raising awareness about domestic violence, and calling for better policies and more funding.
How Can We Move Forward?
So, how can we progress on domestic violence in this Post-COVID-19 era? Here are a few things that we can do as a society to move forward and put an end to Alcoholism and Domestic Violence.
● Create Awareness
To begin, awareness is key. We need to create awareness around this issue, bringing it out into the open. That means having those hard conversations and creating spaces where victims feel safe to speak up.
● Support & Fund Organization
There is a pressing need for continued support and funding for the organizations fighting this battle on the front lines. These champions can’t do their jobs without assistance. That means more resources for shelters, hotlines, legal services, and support programs.
● Clear Call for Reform
We must make a clear call for reforms to better protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. This could mean stricter enforcement of existing laws, as well as new legislation that takes into account the unique challenges of the Post-COVID-19 era.
● Take Preventative Steps
Schools, workplaces, and community organizations all have a part to play in teaching everyone about healthy relationships, the warning signs of abuse, and the impact of alcohol on domestic violence.
● Address Alcoholism
Lastly, we must address the role of alcohol in domestic violence. This means supporting efforts to reduce excessive drinking and promoting treatment for alcohol addiction. It’s a big piece of the puzzle, and it’s time we faced it head-on.
Have you been detained for an alcohol-related offense or domestic violence?
The link between alcohol and domestic violence is clear. We must begin to acknowledge this connection as it is the first step towards addressing the issue. Yet, our aim is to help everyone. If you have been detained for an alcohol-related or domestic violence charge, contact us immediately. We can help!
49th Street Bail Bonds provides bail for various charges, including domestic violence, DUI, drunk and disorderly, and more. Call 727-592-0000 to begin the bail bond process.
At 49th Street Bail Bonds, our bail bond agents have extensive experience and knowledge. You can depend on us to guide you through the bail bond process. You can ask us questions concerning the criminal justice system, get help with paperwork, and learn more about the bail bond process.
49th Street Bail Bonds serves all of Pinellas County. In addition to Clearwater and Largo, we serve clients in St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Bay Pines, Tampa Bay, and Madeira Beach. 49th Street Bail Bonds is also on Facebook. Follow us today!