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The Impact of COVID-19 on Domestic Violence

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As the Coronavirus pandemic continues into the end of 2020, it has affected many aspects of daily life for individuals across the United States. In many cases, individuals are spending more time at home with spouses, roommates, and children. While this may seem enjoyable to some, following stay-at-home orders and quarantine procedures could present a dangerous situation for domestic violence victims. In many cases, victims of domestic violence may face increased barriers to getting help and accessing critical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Pandemic and Resource Access

A recent report published by Rutgers University investigated the additional difficulties that COVID-19 has added to domestic violence victims attempting to seek help. According to the report, domestic violence victims are facing increased difficulties accessing resources, including safe housing, transportation, and childcare. In many cases, a lack of access to resources leads to complications for individuals seeking help. This, in turn, hinders a domestic violence victim’s ability to gain independence from their abusive partners.

 Access to Housing During COVID-19

One significant resource that was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was access to housing and other services. The Rutgers researchers interviewed over 80 domestic violence survivors in emergency shelters and found that a lack of housing options was a significant factor negatively affecting an individual’s feeling of safety and stability. In many cases, a lack of housing options reduces a victim’s ability to move out of a domestic violence shelter or apartment shared with an abuser. This situation resulted in some individuals moving into apartments with poor living conditions or returning to a relationship with an abuser.

 The Dangers of COVID-19 for Domestic Violence Victims

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing and other proactive safety measures could increase the risk of violence and suicide rates for several reasons. This includes increased emotional, physical, and financial stress resulting from job loss and other factors. Quarantine efforts and social isolation could also reduce access to social support and mental health resources. Additionally, social distancing may increase the time a domestic violence victim is within close proximity to an abuser.

Reported Cases of Domestic Violence

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, reported domestic violence cases have surged in many countries across the globe. Notably, the Vancouver Battered Women’s Support Services reported a 300 percent surge in calls during a three-week period earlier this year. Similarly, the Washington Post reported a 30 percent increase in domestic violence calls during the first two weeks of the country’s lockdown period. Other countries experiencing an increase in domestic violence reports include China, Colombia, and Lebanon.

One country that has not experienced an overall increase in reported domestic violence cases is the United States. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, reported cases of domestic violence decreased as much as 50 percent in some areas. However, many health officials and victim advocates note that domestic violence occurrences may be likely increasing but are not being reported to government and health officials.