Guns, Knives Increasingly Used in S.F. Domestic Violence Attacks

A new study released this week by the Department of Women provides a vital but disturbing look at the violence that occurs behind closed doors.

An exhausting, depressing 155-page report on family violence released Tuesday shows that weapons are further wedging their way into already dangerous domestic confrontations.

The San Francisco Department on the Status of Women’s report on 2016 family violence found that while domestic violence homicides are down 75 percent from 2014 and 2015, incidents involving weapons dramatically rose. Emergency domestic violence calls involving a gun went up 53 percent and calls involving a knife increased 87 percent.

One of the recommendations from the report calls for a program to better remove guns from owners with domestic violence restraining orders. The Department on the Status of Women, Sheriff’s Department and Police Department have partnered up to work on such a plan.

In 2018, a 2016 California ballot measure took effect to require that gun owners with criminal convictions prove they’ve relinquished firearms if they want their court cases to finalize after they’ve been convicted. Previously, there was no court process that existed and the proposition impact report said it may be burdensome to law enforcement agencies.

Taking it a step further, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy is requesting funding to track down weapons from gun owners with domestic violence restraining orders, who must do so within 24 hours. Exactly what that entails will come with the department’s 2018 budget request.

In 2018, the city has had two family-related homicides — Nellie Hue, whose ex-husband is suspected of a murder-suicide in the Sunset District on Jan. 19 and Hoda Nasar, whose son is suspected in the Jan. 12 stabbing in Oceanview. 

Another recommendation is to recognize stalking as a form of violence. There were no 911 calls about stalking in the fiscal year 2008 but there were 539 calls in 2016.

The report also found that lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students are nearly three times as likely to experience sexual dating violence than heterosexual high schoolers. 

And while black residents are 5.6 percent of San Francisco’s population, they make up 26 percent of clients of the District Attorney’s Victim Services Division. Latinx residents make up 15.2 percent of the population but account for 28 percent of the division’s clients.

Funding for Violence Against Women services increased from $1.83 million to $6.77 million over the past 11 years. Community-based organizations responded to nearly 10 times as many cases as police, according to the department’s policy director, Minouche Kandel.

Family violence is a life and death issue, with weapons frequently used to control and maim,” says Shawna Reeves, director of Elber Abuse Prevention at the Institute on Aging. “As in previous years, the report demonstrates that trusted community-based organizations are a critical first-line of support for many victims of family violence, who would otherwise endure abuse alone and remain at high risk of injury or even death.”

The full report — which includes studies on child and elder abuse — can be found at the Department of the Status on Women’s website.

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