Mar 30, 2021 - News

St. Paul murder-suicide puts renewed focus on domestic violence during pandemic

Bao Yang. Photo courtesy of family/GoFundMe

A recent murder-suicide in St. Paul has brought renewed attention to an apparent increase in domestic violence during the pandemic.

Driving the news: Bao Yang, a nurse and mother of two, was killed by her ex-boyfriend on March 20 following months of harassment, as The Pioneer Press reported.

The big picture: Advocates for survivors and victims have raised the alarm that increased isolation and restricted access to public resources and spaces in the pandemic are making things worse.

  • "The pandemic, stay-at-home orders, all of those things don't cause someone to be abusive, but it can escalate the abusive situations," Becky Smith, communications director for Violence Free Minnesota, told Axios.

By the numbers: Calls, texts and chats to the statewide Day One crisis hotline went up as COVID-19 restrictions tightened.

  • In St. Paul, reports of domestic incidents were up 33% in 2020, per the St. Paul Police Department. As of mid-March, they were 4.5% higher than this time in 2020.

What's happening: A St. Paul Police spokesman said the department is working closely with survivor services and county and city attorneys to try to "break the cycle of abuse."

  • Advocates, meanwhile, are pushing for more than $10 million in new state funding for survivor support and prevention programs.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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