Lockdowns Linked to a Higher Rate of Domestic Violence

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Recently, new research published in the journal American Behavioral Scientist has found that the incidence of domestic violence or intimate partner violence has increased since the beginning of impositions of coronavirus restrictions including lockdowns in the past year.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention defines intimate partner violence as any form of physical, sexual emotional, and economic abuse as well as stalking and blackmailing by a former or current partner.

Statistically, twenty-five percent of the women and ten percent of the men experience one of the aforementioned forms of violence in their lifetimes. These figures may be higher depending on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.

In the past year, the level of abuse has increased throughout the world due to the spread of the coronavirus infection and the creation of circumstances that allow for more violence. In the new study, the researchers investigated this increase via an online survey.

The survey comprised of different questions ranging from household demographic, financial stability, and impact of coronavirus pandemic on social interaction and intimate partner violence. Over three hundred participants with an average age of forty-seven took part in the survey.

Out of all of the participants, around thirty-nine percent reported an increase in domestic violence and intimate partner abuse. Seventy-four percent of people experiencing more abuse were women.

Though the sample shows only a ten percent increase in violence, the survey showed a number of other important changes including the impact of stress. All participants who experienced abuse had higher stress levels than those who did not.

Moreover, the increase in stress levels led to more violence subsequently. This shows that exposure to stress can elevate the risk of intimate partner abuse.

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One of the primary factors for more stress in the sample from the survey was financial insecurity. As many people lost their jobs and were unable to make their ends meet, there were higher chances for arguments among couples. Many times, the arguments often turned into physical and emotional abuse.

Prior to the reports on the coronavirus pandemic, similar domestic violence patterns were also observed during the economic recession in the year 2008. However, in the current situation, it may be much more difficult to prevent intimate partner violence than before especially in countries where coronavirus lockdowns are still imposed.

Due to the threat of the virus, control policies and lockdowns are required in many countries and cannot be eliminated. Instead, the researchers suggest the increase in government resources to help victims of domestic abuse and higher awareness for the availability of such resources.

Many of the domestic violence cases can be prevented simply by better communicative methods and improved accessibility as victims are unable to get help.

The leading investigator of the study and the assistant professor of social and environmental justice in the Department of Human Ecology,  Clare Cannon suggests increasing communication services so that other primary workers and frontline workers along with doctors or social workers can look for any signs of domestic abuse.

This can make it easier to connect the victims with resources that can help them escape from abusive situations at home and prevent further abuse.


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Abeera I. Kazmi

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