April 20, 2022

Report highlights pandemic's impact on domestic violence in Central Indiana

The Domestic Violence Network's 2020 State of Domestic Violence report examines how the COVID-19 shutdown and other corresponding events influenced domestic violence. - Domestic Violence Network

The Domestic Violence Network's 2020 State of Domestic Violence report examines how the COVID-19 shutdown and other corresponding events influenced domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Network

The pandemic has impacted the severity of domestic violence incidents in Central Indiana.

The 2020 State of Domestic Violence report examines how the COVID-19 shutdown and other corresponding events influenced domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Network Executive Director Kelly McBride said one thing that stands out is the increased severity of incidents.

“So we saw more strangulation, more handguns, that sort of thing,” McBride said, “so lethality really increased.”

In 2020, 41 people lost their lives to domestic violence.

The number of domestic violence calls to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department nearly doubled in 2020 and included more serious incidents.



The report was compiled using data from service providers in Central Indiana.  A lack of shelter capacity due to COVID-19 safety measures was felt at the beginning of the pandemic and more than 1,150 people were turned away.

McBride said many service providers felt the pressure

“To be able to quickly respond to these calls, it was a challenging time, 2020 and 2021 both,” she said.

Key findings in the report:

  • There were approximately 13,500 service calls made in 2020 to five agencies in the region that provide services to domestic violence victims.
  • Shelter capacity greatly diminished across organizations due to the safety measures put into place for COVID-19. As a result, 1,152 individuals were denied service due to capacity issues across three organizations.
  • According to a survey conducted by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, there was a 43 percent increase in shelters that reported being under capacity.
  • Calls to the IMPD for domestic violence nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020.
  • There were 3,709 arrests made for domestic violence, approximately 300 fewer than in 2019. COVID-19 and the safety precautions put into place for the jail system play into these numbers significantly.
  • Of the 41 fatalities in 2020, 83 percent (33 deaths) were caused by a firearm. Forty-one percent of these fatalities were victims of domestic violence, and 59 percent were the perpetrators', family members, and bystanders.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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