On November 30, San Francisco’s Family Violence Council released its Comprehensive Report on Family Violence in San Francisco, which compiles statistics for the fiscal year 2010-11 (July 1, 2010–June 30, 2011). The report provides the broadest available overview of the problem as it manifests itself in the city. According to the document, family violence continues to be a pervasive problem, with thousands of San Francisco residents experiencing it every year.
The report provides statistical data related to three areas–Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, and Elder Abuse. It acknowledges that violence can take multiple forms, not limiting itself to physical and sexual abuse.
According to the document, in the fiscal year 2010-11 domestic violence reporting rose dramatically (47% more calls to crisis lines, including W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s crisis line). However, it is unclear whether violence itself has risen, or increasing awareness has prompted more survivors to reach out for support. Statistics also show that the Domestic Violence-related caseload of the District Attorney’s Office increased 10%, Adult Probation’s general supervision cases rose 17%, and shelters provided 29% more bed nights. The most startling number comes from the Department of Child Support Services, which stated that child support cases involving family violence rose 202%.
Child abuse statistics generally stay relatively steady, with the exception for violence related to Adult Probation general supervision cases (a 44% increase). In response to the growth of such crimes, the Adult Probation Department formed a Child Abuse Unit. Elder abuse has risen dramatically–Adult Probation reported a 51% increase in general supervision cases, while the District Attorney’s Office and the Elder Abuse Forensic Center posted a 47% and a 38% caseload increase respectively.
In the fiscal year 2010-11 the 911 Call Center received 7,510 calls related to domestic violence. Most calls that are not related to child or elder abuse concern fights and disputes without use of weapons (54%). Assault/ battery (including unwanted physical contact) accounts for 37% of the calls, while 4% concern written, verbal, or recorded threats. In February 2011 new call codes for child and elder abuse were introduced, and in the months leading up to the end of the fiscal year 23 calls were coded for child abuse and 51 for elder abuse. With child abuse reporting, the overwhelming majority of calls (91%) informed about assault/ battery. As for calls related to violence directed at elderly San Francisco residents, 59% fall under the broad “elder abuse” umbrella, followed by assault/ battery (13%) and forgery (10%). The report points out that one family may experience several types of violence–for example, child abuse is present in 30%-60% families that have domestic violence.
The breakdown by neighborhood goes as follows: most 911 calls (16% and 14% respectively) come from the Bayview and Ingleside, with the Mission, the South and the North of the city not far behind. The statistics provided by the Victim Services Division of the District Attorney’s Office give an idea about the approximate demographics of family violence. The division dealt with 1,513 cases, 62% of which were related to domestic violence, 23% to child abuse, and 15% to elder abuse. The majority of the clients were female (77%). 29% were White (Latino/a 27%, African American 25%, Asian 14%). The most represented age group was 18-64 (68% of the cases), after that comes 0-17 (17% of the cases).
The full report is available on the website of the city’s Department on the Status of Women. Please mind that the statistics are largely based on what is reported to the criminal system, and since many survivors and families do not report domestic violence, the document may still not be a completely accurate representation of how widespread the problem is.
~ Julia Glosemeyer