Domestic Violence Reports To Police Have Decreased In San Francisco

Supermajority Education Fund

December 6, 2019

On Sunday, the San Francisco Examiner reported that the number of domestic violence reports to local police has decreased by more than 14 percent since 2016. This downward trend in reports does not equate to fewer domestic violence incidents, however. 

Beverly Upton, Executive Director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, told the Examiner that many domestic violence survivors might not feel comfortable reporting incidents — citing immigrant communities in particular. This is especially relevant as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is increasingly targeting immigrant families. 

This problem is a national one. The National Coalition for Domestic Violence (NCDV) reports that 20 people per minute are abused by their partners each day, which is about 30,000 people, and that about 20,000 people call national domestic violence hotlines per day. Those people, however, aren’t necessarily calling 911. 

LySaundra Campbell, the Media Associate at the National Women’s Law Center and former communications expert with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told Supermajority News that cultural and religious barriers often prevent people from reporting abuse to police in their communities. Financial dependence on an intimate partner, she said, is also a reason why victims don’t leave or don’t want to tell anyone that they are being abused. The act of leaving itself actually poses the most danger to survivors, Campbell added, stating, “violence often escalates and can become fatal when a survivor attempts to leave.”

Campbell added that police who handle domestic violence cases can make the mistake of criminalizing the women who report their abuse. She said this happens most often to black women who are often considered by police to be “the aggressor” when they defend themselves or their children. 

According to Campbell, a victim’s support system is usually the most important factor in a survivor’s ability to leave. She said this support starts with helpful suggestions for how to get out of the relationship, like suggesting to your friend that they should go to the police, a helpline or shelter. 

“Resources are important to have, but find ways to suggest them to your family member or friend that doesn’t place blame or take away their agency,” she said. “Domestic violence is about power and control—survivors are already having their every move monitored by an abusive partner who claims to care for them; the last thing they need is another person in their life telling them what to do.”