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Experts: Increase in domestic violence homicides is directly related to pandemic

The domestic violence homicide rate is up 113 percent.

INDIANAPOLIS — Since IMPD Officer Breann Leath was killed last year responding to a domestic violence call, homicide rates because of domestic violence have gone up across the state.   

Experts say the increase is directly related to the pandemic. 

“I can’t believe it’s been a year since that tragedy happened,” said Laura Berry with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV). 

It's been one year since Leath lost her life, just a month into the coronavirus pandemic. In that time, the number of COVID-19 cases has gone up and come down. The number of domestic violence homicides across the state have gone up and stayed there. 

“We’ve seen about a 113 percent increase in the domestic violence homicide rates since March of last year, and that number doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” said Berry. 

Just last month, ICADV counted 10 deaths during domestic violence incidents in just one week. 

“I can’t recall in my history of this work in 30 years, 10 in one week,” Berry said. 

Experts say factors surrounding pandemic are responsible. 

“It really kind of started with isolation, staying at home orders, a downturn in the economy, economic stressors, increased access to firearms, all of these things really became a perfect storm for this increase in homicide rates and the feeling that survivors could not reach out for services,” Berry explained. 

Survivors did reach out to 911, asking for help. 

“Where high COVID numbers were, we really had a high domestic violence call ratio,’ she said. 

Calls like the one made the day Leath was killed. 

“It’s just tragic that she lost her life trying to help and support someone else,” said Berry.

There is help for people in abusive relationships. In Indianapolis, you can reach out to the Julian Center at (317) 920-9320.

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