Why is domestic violence increasing in the Garden State?
New data shows domestic violence offenses, including homicides, are on the rise in New Jersey.
The New Jersey State Police Domestic Violence report for 2016 (the most recent available) shows there were 63,420 domestic violence incidents reported statewide two years ago, a 3 percent increase from 2015 when there were 61,659 incidents.
Essex County has the most domestic violence incidents reported, 6,437.
The total number of domestic violence–related homicides in New Jersey in 2016 was 52, compared to 49 the previous year.
“We certainly look at this as the tip of the iceberg," said Nicole Morella, the director of public policy and communications at the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence. "We understand that there’s certainly more individuals in the community experiencing domestic violence.”
She noted the Coalition’s statewide domestic violence hotline receives more than 90,000 calls a year, and the increasing numbers of people reporting domestic violence incidents may be a reflection of what’s going on in society.
“We’re in a time where there’s a lot of discussion in the media and in different public circles around issues of violence against women, sexual violence as well as domestic violence,” she said.
“This is a good thing because we want people to be more informed, to be aware of where they can seek out services and help.”
She pointed out most people think of married couples or boyfriend-girlfriend relationships when they hear the term domestic violence, but cases may also involve other family relationships and household partners, including adult children attacking or killing a parent or sibling.
“We define domestic violence as a pattern of behaviors that an individual will use to establish and maintain control over that individual, and it usually will start with non-physical forms of control — usually emotional abuse, verbal abuse, dictating where a partner can go, who they can talk to.”
Over time, the abuse may escalate and turn into physical violence.
She said if this sounds familiar or you want to get more information about your situation, “it’s a great time to reach out for help and to talk with an advocate. We encourage people to call, they can call anonymously, it can be confidential.”
Morella noted most domestic violence victims are women, but in 26 percent of domestic violence cases the victims are men.
The New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-572-SAFE
2016 Domestic Violence Offenses/Arrests by County
Atlantic: 4,563 offenses, 777 arrests
Bergen: 3,391 offenses, 1,149 arrests
Burlington: 3,821 offenses, 1,251 arrests
Camden: 6,080 offenses, 1,951 arrests
Cape May: 1,262 offenses, 379 arrests
Cumberland: 2,676 offenses, 764 arrests
Essex: 6,437 offenses, 2,087 arrests
Gloucester: 1,986 offenses, 676 arrests
Hudson: 3,441 offenses, 975 arrests
Hunterdon: 554 offenses, 135 arrests
Mercer: 2,316 offenses, 876 arrests
Middlesex: 4,303 offenses, 1,345 arrests
Monmouth: 4,206 offenses, 1,517 arrests
Morris: 2,017 offenses, 676 arrests
Ocean: 3,983 offenses, 1,138 arrests
Passaic: 3,367 offenses, 1,037 arrests
Salem: 735 offenses, 293 arrests
Somerset: 2,048 offenses, 546 arrests
Sussex: 1,231 offenses, 309 arrests
Union: 3,858 offenses, 1,407 arrests
Warren: 1,175 offenses, 184 arrests
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com