Horrific Domestic Abuse in Phoenix: Man Sets His Girlfriend on Fire

How do domestic disputes get so out of control?

Although suspicions of infidelity almost always cause heated arguments and often lead to broken relationships, sometimes such accusations lead to domestic abuse. It is often difficult to tell if the abuse has always been a way of life for the partners or if the infidelity (or suspicion of it) actually pushed one domestic partner over the edge into violence.

In a recent case in Phoenix, a man named Rafael Arredondo, is accused of “punishing” his live-in girlfriend for presumed sexual relations with a neighbor  by setting her on fire. Remarkably, after having her hands, mouth, neck and head taped, being doused with lighter fluid and set aflame, the victim survived.  Arredondo himself saved her after the attack, using his hands and then a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.  Nonetheless, the victim suffered second- and third-degree burns on 25 percent of her body. She is expected to spend at least a month in the hospital recovering from her injuries.

Arredondo, whose hands were burned during the incident, initially told the police officers who arrived at the scene that a neighbor had set his girlfriend on fire.  He professed that he had gone to the store, leaving the victim at home, only to return to find her on fire and screaming. The victim did not reveal the true circumstances of the occurrence until she was away from Arredondo.

Not surprisingly, this was not the first time Arredondo may have abused his girlfriend. The police officers who took her statement noticed that she had bruising and stitches over one eye. She revealed that Arredondo had hit her and “stitched it up so she would not have to go to the hospital.” When confronted with his girlfriend’s revelation, the defendant became agitated, refusing to cooperate and asking over and over to see the victim. He insisted that he hadn’t hurt her and didn’t know why she would say such things.

According to court papers, the partners met as teenagers and had been a couple for 15 years. They have three children together who are now in the custody of the Department of Child Services. The documents also show that, although Arredondo has a history of domestic violence, the incidents have recently increased, both in intensity and frequency. It is clear that Arredondo has serious mental health issues around jealousy and control, having quit his job to stay home and “keep an eye” on his girlfriend.

The document also shows Arredondo not only has a history of domestic violence but also that violent incidents were increasing in intensity and frequency. It also shows the officers’ belief that Arredondo has control and jealousy issues. The victim told them Arredondo had quit his job “so he could be at home to keep an eye on her.”

Domestic violence is a major problem, not only in Arizona, but all over the country, in fact — all over the world.  If you have become involved in a situation involving domestic violence, it is essential that you seek legal counsel immediately for your own safety and the safety of other family members, especially children. Mitchell Cohen is an attorney with the skill and compassion to shepherd you through a troubling, possibly terrifying, situation. He has been helping families since 1982 and can be reached at 602-714-8898 for a free consultation.