Study Finds Rise in Domestic Violence During COVID

The findings dovetail with concerns about pandemic-related domestic abuse expressed in April by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
“We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners,” Guterres said at the time. “Over the past weeks, as the economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying surge in domestic violence.
“For many women and girls,” he added, “the threat looms largest where they should be safest, in their own homes.”
Barbara Paradiso, director of the Center on Domestic Violence at the University of Colorado, Denver, echoed that thought.
“When a victim is required to stay in a home without access to the usual outlets that help to reduce tension [such as] time apart when at work, opportunities to visit friends or family, a private place to reach out for help — the opportunity for violence naturally rises,” noted Paradiso, who wasn’t part of the study.
Stress stemming from the pandemic itself probably contributes as well, she added.
“The person choosing to use violence — the perpetrator — employs violence as a tool to establish and maintain power and control over their partner,” Paradiso explained. “That need for power is, in part, a reflection of the lack of power they feel over their environment. COVID has brought with it just about every uncertainty any of us can imagine: Will we lose our jobs? Be furloughed? When will be allowed to go back to work or school? Can I make my rent payment? And on and on.”
The uncertainty is likely to hit abusers hard, Paradiso said.
“That lack of control each of us are feeling is likely to be amplified for the abuser, and so they amplify their violence,” she said.
Many shelters and safe homes have had to move people into hotels to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, so space for domestic abuse victims can be limited. But help is available, Balcom said.
“Hotlines and domestic violence programs are operating,” she said. Those who need help should contact their local program for support or reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Its website — — also has information about local resources.
“Even if leaving home and going to a shelter is not what a survivor wants to do, the staff at safe home programs are great to talk with,” Paradiso said. “They can provide support, help you to develop a plan to better keep yourself and your children safe, and connect you to lots of valuable resources in the community.”

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