Domestic Violence

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Nationally, the domestic abuse hotline has seen an uptick in calls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and that trend is reflected across the Mountain West.

In Idaho, for example, the Women and Children's Alliance saw a 194% increase in calls to its domestic violence hotline in April, according to the group's communications director, Chris Davis.

Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio

Nonprofit organizations are serving more clients during the pandemic, which requires more money. Many of these groups host big events in the spring and summer to raise funds for the year. To maintain social distancing, organizations have had to think of new ways to make sure their doors stay open.

In many ways, life has slowed down during the coronavirus pandemic but gun violence persists, challenging outreach workers who are trying to stop the violence despite social distancing restrictions.

WCA Boise


Quarantine is stressful for everyone, but for some, being cooped up alone with no school or work as an escape is dangerous. And that is the reality for some Idahoans: those currently quarantined with an abusive partner or parent. 

As health officials struggle to suppress the spread of COVID-19, many entangled in the U.S. court system, including domestic violence accusers and those with pending court hearings, are left with the difficult question of what comes next.

Several agencies have opted to incorporate teleconferencing and other remote workarounds to better support those in need, but for many victims of domestic violence, time in isolation can compound the dangers of living with an abuser.

Domestic abusers are generally prohibited from possessing firearms, but in many states, ensuring these offenders turn over their guns is difficult. A new investigator in the Denver, Colorado, District Attorney’s office is trying to change that by removing guns case-by-case.

The investigator spends his days listening to 911 calls, scanning social media and talking to family members, looking for signs that someone who has been charged with a domestic violence-related offense and who has a restraining order against them, has a gun.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been in a years-long fight to decrease violent gun crimes. And now, it’s targeting domestic violence abusers.

Merry Jackson wanted to protect her daughter, Lori. She did the best she could. But when Lori’s husband, Scott Gellatly, stormed through the door of her parents’ home, there wasn’t much Merry could do.

“He’s here! Scott’s here!” Lori screamed upstairs to her mother, who was in bed with her twin 18-month-old grandchildren.

In America, domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime, and yet it remains locked in silence, even as its tendrils reach unseen into so many of our most pressing national issues, from our economy to our education system, from mass shootings to mass incarceration to the #MeToo movement.

Shattered: Intimate Partner Gun Violence

Sep 27, 2019

Timira Hopkins knew her boyfriend was angry that she had stayed late at her grandmother’s house one day in March 2014, instead of being at home waiting when he got off work.

She had seen him upset before — often, even. His rage would routinely erupt into acts of violence, leaving her with black and blue bruises across her face. He sometimes threatened worse.

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of domestic violence that some readers might find disturbing.

Flickr Creative Commons

A recent Idaho Supreme Court ruling is creating a lot of confusion about the state constitution and misdemeanor arrests.

For years, Kelly Sundberg endured horrific domestic battery at the hands of her husband. After being found guilty of assault, her husband's only sentence was to write a letter of apology. Sundberg writes about her experience in Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival, which is being issued in paperback. She joins us to share her story and bring awareness to the problem of domestic abuse.

After decades of decline, the rate of Americans killing their intimate partners has seen “a sharp increase” in recent years. Data shows that uptick is exclusively due to gun-related murders.

Saltzer Medical Group

The Saltzer Medical Group is launching an initiative to prevent domestic and child abuse by educating young women about healthy relationships. The Healthy Relationships/Safe Babies program is trying to get ahead of the issue by having young women ask themselves hard, honest questions about their relationships and help them to identify red flags.

Stephanie Bond was married to her husband for almost 22 years before he called her into the master bedroom one afternoon in February 2010.

“He pulled out a .45-caliber gun and shot me three times in our walk-in closet with three of the four children at the home,” Bond said. “After he shot me, he put the gun in his mouth and killed himself — and died next to me.”

  • Why does the United States lead the developed world in deaths among pregnant women?
  • A domestic violence survivor shares her story to raise awareness.

On The Thursday, August 9, 2018 Edition Of Idaho Matters:

Aug 8, 2018

  • A domestic violence survivor shares her story to raise awareness.
  • Idaho's Opportunity Scholarship provides financial aid for adult learners.
  • The Boise Period Project describes their first distribution event.
  • The World Center for Birds of Prey holds an auction for Gem State education.

Ada County Sheriff's Office

Boise Police arrested a former local pastor who was held captive in Iran for the better part of three years for violating a no contact order with his estranged wife.

Michael Martin

Rick and Tess laugh a lot. After 22 years together, they finish each others sentences and tease each other constantly. “I’ve got the one-in-a-million,” says Rick of his wife. “Yeah, me too,” laughs Tess. The pair's marriage hasn't always been easy, three years ago Rick was arrested on domestic violence charges.

Rick and Tess didn’t want to use their real names, but they did want to talk about their experience with Ada County’s domestic violence court. This special court has become a model for judges around the country in the fight against domestic violence.

hand gun
Stephen Velasco / Flickr Creative Commons

An organization that researches violence and advocates for tougher gun laws has released a study that shows Idaho has the seventh-highest rate of women killed by men in the nation.

The Violence Policy Center released its annual report analyzing homicide data Wednesday. The organization found that in Idaho, 14 females were murdered by males in 2011. That translates to a rate of 1.77 per every 100,000, higher than the national average of 1.17 per 100,000.

Officials with the only domestic violence shelter in the southwestern Idaho city of Nampa say the shelter may close because of financial woes.

Program Services Director Charlene Wright told the Idaho Press-Tribune that if Valley Crisis Center doesn't get an infusion of cash soon it could close by the end of October. Wright says the shelter has had trouble paying staffers and paying rent for transitional housing, and the program needs at least $50,000 to keep afloat.

A bill to protect victims of domestic violence comes up for a vote this week in the U.S. Senate.  Some Senate Republicans oppose the legislation because it expands prosecutorial powers for native American tribes, and adds protection for battered illegal immigrants, gays, and lesbians. 

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)  is a co-sponsor of the bill.  He says the provisions that have been criticized aren’t central to the legislation.   “I believe these are critical programs that need to be re-authorized and I’m going to be a strong advocate for it.”