FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Since the start of the pandemic, Fairfax County Police said they’ve seen a dramatic rise in domestic violence cases. Now, the department is putting an emphasis on making sure people across the county have the resources they need in order to flee a potentially deadly situation.
In 2022, the police department said they've responded to more than 600 domestic calls, thus far, 46 of which involved a weapon and 78 involving strangulations.
“We've seen a big hike in strangulation cases,” Saly Fayez, the director of Victims Services Section for Fairfax County Police, said. "There's a rise in the severity [of calls.]"
On May 14, Fairfax County Police found a couple in their late 70s shot to death in their home. After a preliminary investigation, detectives believe the husband shot his wife and then himself, police said. It marks the 7th homicide of the year for the county.
Fayez said that her department believes the pandemic has played a role in the rise of cases throughout the county and possibly nationwide. And oftentimes, the violence doesn’t start physically.
“A lot of domestic violence starts with emotional abuse, which is harder to prove for people that have physical altercations," Fayez said. "If your significant other is starting to control your every move, who your friendships are, your finances, things like that, that's a sign."
Fayez said the fear of financial hardship often makes victims return to their abusers or even worse, prevents them from reporting the abuse.
But the calls aren't limited to violence by romantic partners.
“It's not uncommon, now, for a child to assault, and sadly murder, their parents," she said. “Resources are available, whether it's shelter, emergency resources, long-term counseling, short term counseling. I think that people forget there's so many other dynamics in domestic violence. It's not just the physical abuse itself."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Help Line at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).