What Contributes To The Rise of Domestic Violence During A Global Pandemic?

It’s been months since the first publicly confirmed case of COVID-19 hit Washington state at the end of February. Since then, we’ve all had to adjust to a new normal in order to move forward in health and safety.

For many people, home has taken on a completely different meaning! It’s become a place to work, to learn, to exercise, and, most importantly, a place to stay safe from the dangers and risks of COVID-19. But for those affected by domestic
violence, staying at home is anything but safe.

In fact, new estimates from the United Nations Population Fund suggest that three months of quarantine will result in a 20 percent rise in IPV (“intimate partner violence”) throughout the world. Today’s lockdown measures appear to be fueling increased instances of domestic violence but the question still remains: why?

The Dangers of Isolation

It’s well known that social isolation and loneliness can take a toll on your physical, mental and cognitive health. There’s a lot of discussion about the effects of isolation, loneliness, and depression, but we also need to put the spotlight on the impact isolation has on domestic violence.

Unfortunately, social isolation is a common tactic abusers use to limit outside contact. By isolating someone from family, friends, and work, abusers are able to control their entire environment. This creates a cycle of abuse that can leave one feeling trapped with no way out.

Increased Stress

​​Stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, but it’s closely linked to your mental health in a few ways. Increased stress can trigger for anger, irritability, and unhealthy outbursts which can all be contributing factors to increased reports of domestic abuse,” said Dr. Flatow, a Psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health.

Disease outbreaks can foster a type of stress due to fear of the unknown. Unlike natural disasters or catastrophes, it’s hard to look forward. There also economic anxiety and increased unemployment rates that can add to daily stress and trigger abuse.

Substance Abuse

Meanwhile, reports show that alcohol sales have skyrocketed as people continue to stay at home. We’ve seen liquor and wine stores remain open as “essential businesses” during the COVID-19 outbreak. Increased alcohol consumption coupled with the other factors listed above contribute to cases of domestic violence and abuse

Help For Domestic Abuse

It’s important to know there are many resources for those affected by domestic abuse and violence even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many women in abusive relationships find it difficult to trust others. Also, if and when they do reach out, they want reassurance and support knowing that something is available for their safety.

​Reaching out isn’t always easy, but safety is essential during these challenging times. On a national level, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides support through their hotline (1-800-799-7233) or online chat (thehotline.org). Locally, in the Long Beach area, the Women’s Shelter of Long Beach provides a 24/7 crisis hotline (562-437-4663). You can also find more information www.womenshelterlb.org.