Reports of domestic violence in San Francisco rose sharply from mid-2010 to mid-2011, including a remarkable 47 percent increase in phone calls to domestic violence crisis lines, according to a draft report on family violence prepared by the city, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Those same hotline calls spiked further in the first quarter of 2012 from the last quarter of 2011, just as Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s arrest for domestic violence made the news.
Coincidence or not, that uptick disproved the oft-made claim by Mirkarimi’s supporters and some advocates for domestic violence victims that the intense media scrutiny on the sheriff’s case would scare abused women into staying quiet. Advocates and city officials alike don’t know whether the rise in domestic violence reports can be attributed to more public awareness about the importance of reporting abuse, or whether incidences of family violence are actually on the rise. Mayor Ed Lee called the statistics “sobering data.” District Attorney George Gascon agreed, but said the big question is why the figures are skyrocketing. “We don’t know if the level of awareness has increased or if there’s another reason,” Gascón said. “We want to get to the bottom of this.”