COVID-19 Impacts on Domestic Violence

Across the world, domestic violence calls have spiked as the self-quarantine regulations put a strain on households, and experts are raising concerns for a continued increase in domestic violence.

Coronavirus lockdowns and quarantines have created major concerns for the effects this pandemic is having on the most vulnerable populations. Across the world, domestic violence calls have spiked as the self-quarantine regulations put a strain on households, and experts are raising concerns for a continued increase in domestic violence.

A recent report from the United Nations Population Fund estimates that every 3 months of lockdown could result in an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence throughout the world as the COVID-19 pandemic “undermines efforts” to combat gender-based violence. A small number of countries, including Greenland and South Africa, have taken steps to reduce domestic violence by banning the sale of alcohol, citing it as a factor that contributes to the likelihood of violence in the home. In Palestine, a UN Women report indicated that surveyed Palestinians expect a 33% increase in domestic violence, with one organization already reporting a 10% increase in a week.

While some major cities have seen a spike in domestic violence reports, others have reported a decrease. However, the drop in calls could be accounted for three reasons:

  • First, schools, nurses, and social workers are a major source of reports for child abuse or neglect. With the closure of schools, childcare, and fewer families willing to take their child to a hospital or doctor out of fear of contracting the Coronavirus, there are fewer means of a child coming into contact with a mandated reporter.
  • Second, due to the close quarters that many families find themselves in, it is less likely for a victim to be able to report the abuse. The social isolation being experienced around the world contributes to domestic violence, as isolation is a common factor used by abusers to assert control over the victim.
  • Third, the economic repercussions of the coronavirus and increases in job loss have left many people financially unstable. Economic instability contributes to domestic violence in two ways. Studies have shown that households under “economic distress” experience higher levels of domestic violence.  Additionally, the lack of economic opportunity leaves individuals vulnerable to domestic violence in the home of the abuser as they lack the necessary resources to move.

 

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