There has been speculation that during the COVID-19 pandemic domestic violence has increased. There are some preliminary research statistics, however, we can’t know exactly how this pandemic has impacted victims of domestic violence.
A report from No More indicated that the most impacted area was in-person services¹. The report indicated the following:
- 88% of nonprofits surveyed were impacted by Covid
- 75% of those organizations had to reduce services or cancel programs
- 63% indicated their demand for services escalated
- 40% of organizations saw a decline in funding
- 50% of service providers indicated that being in lockdown, hampered getting in contact with clients
COVID doesn’t create domestic abuse, but it certainly provides abusers with more ability to terrorize and have power and control. There is evidence that the pandemic has “made intimate partner violence more common – and often more severe.”² Abusers are using the government’s own words against victims – you can’t go out and the government says so. This further isolates victims and puts them under the control of the abuser, inadvertently with government sanction.
According to the UN Women, an increase in domestic violence was found in the following countries:
300% in Hubei, China
25% in Argentina
30% in Cyprus
33% in Singapore
50% in Brazil
In England, domestic violence soared due to the pandemic, but it was the tragic death of 26-year-old Amy-Leanne Stringfellow that shook the country.³ For the United States, information obtained from law enforcement agencies has shown the following increase in calls:
18% increase in San Francisco
22% in Portland, Oregon
10% in New York
When an abuser is with their victim and children 24/7, no one has a respite from the intensity of stress. At least when an abuser goes to work and children go to school, both victim and children have a respite.
One of the things known about living with abuse is the constant influx of cortisol. Victims and children are constantly fatigued; often they battle weight gain, have difficulty sleeping, heal slowly from injuries, have difficulty concentrating, chronic headaches, and other chronic health issues. Without some relief from the stress of living with abuse and fear, these issues can escalate and become life-threatening.
Along with the constant 24/7 of living with the abuser, there is also the added stress of many families having a major impact on their family economics if the abuser and/or victim lose their job. Stimulus relief packages assist but don’t alleviate the fear of how bills get paid, having food on the table, or losing their home.
As with any major disaster, a pandemic impacts those services needed most by the vulnerable, including victims and children of abuse. Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other major disasters have taught us how to provide for victims. However, a pandemic is different; a pandemic affects the global community, service providers, and thereby, affects victims. This is where providers and communities must learn to think outside the box and be creative on how to provide services for victims and their children.
Once this crisis has passed, hopefully, we can gather statistics – stories from both providers and victims – on what worked, what didn’t, and how we can do better in the future.
Nomore.org. (2021). Covid-19’s global impact on domestic and sexual violence support services. http://nomore.org/A-NO-MORE-Report-COVID-19s-Global-Impact-on-Domestic-Sexual-Violence-Support-Services.pdf
Eluger, J. (2021 February 3). Domestic violence is a pandemic within the Covid-19 pandemic. Time. https://time.com/5928539/domestic-violence-is-a-pandemic-with-the-covid-19-pandemic