State domestic violence numbers soar, sparked by pandemic lockdowns

Nakira Howard is a survivor of domestic violence - which only got worse when was essentially locked in with her abuser at the height of the pandemic.

"I dealt with more verbal abuse during the pandemic, but for him to charge at me and put his hands on me .... " she said. "It was necessary for me to get the protection for myself and my daughters as well."

Members of the House Progressive Women’s Caucus unveiled a package of bills aimed at helping people like Howard, to get what they need, right away.

"These protections, whether it's jobs, housing, privacy rights, those are baseline protections that folks need to do the work, and start healing," said State Rep. Felicia Brabec (D) Pittsfield Township.

A package of bills introduced Thursday will try to prevent domestic violence, support survivors, and help protect survivors from further abuse. Since the beginning of the pandemic, domestic violence rates have soared, leaving shelters overburdened, and resources stretched thin.

In Michigan alone, there were more than 64,700 reported victims of domestic violence, up nearly 20,000 from two years ago.

"I’m sure that everyone has someone in their family who has been a victim of abuse," said State Rep. Padma Kuppa (D) Troy. "It’s such a common problem across our state, across our country, and across the world.  This is an important set of bills to support."  

Two additional bills are expected to be introduced soon - encouraging law enforcement and prosecutors to initiate victim-focused outreach with victim service agencies and lets survivors know if an abuser’s tether is tampered with, or if the abuser comes close to victims home or workplace.