How Lockdown Has Impacted Domestic Violence Cases
The coronavirus pandemic has been a health crisis unlike any we've seen before. Life has changed in so many ways since the virus was first discovered and began to spread from place to place, and countless lives have been lost since the pandemic began, with many more people recovering from their initial infections but still struggling with symptoms for weeks and months to follow.
The virus has affected everyone on Earth in one way or another. Entire economies have collapsed, countries have shut down, populations have been forced into lockdown, and life as we know it has been altered to a dramatic degree. In the wake of this global health crisis, several smaller but still highly significant crises have also erupted.
We've seen, for example, a business crisis in which companies have had to close their doors and cease operations entirely, as well as a mental health crisis in which people have all ages have been suffering from loneliness, stress, and depression due to being cooped up indoors and frightened for their lives and those of their loved ones.
Tragically, the rise of COVID-19 and the widespread use of lockdowns and quarantines has also led to a domestic violence crisis. The numbers of domestic violence cases have risen, all over the globe, with countless victims suffering at the hands of their abusers and feeling more trapped and alone in these situations than ever before.
A Dramatic Rise
Reports state that domestic violence has risen by around 20% during lockdown, with the UN calling this phenomenon a 'shadow pandemic'. From the US to the UK, Canada, Argentina, France, Germany, Spain, and many more countries too, the dramatic increase in domestic violence has been reported, showing that just like the pandemic itself, this is a global problem.
Calls to domestic violence helplines have risen during the lockdown periods, with mostly women suffering at the hands of their abusers. There have also been more victims of domestic abuse trying to contact and enter shelters and safe spaces where they can get away from their abusers. The actual rates of these increases have varied from place to place, but have been relatively consistent.
In Indiana, for example, reports have stated that domestic violence deaths were up by 86% during lockdown. In New York, the number of cases reported to some organizations doubled during the months of COVID-19 lockdown as compared to pre-COVID times. Similar figures have been seen all over the US, from state to state.
So what has led to such a surge in domestic violence across the globe during COVID-19? Well, various psychologists, scientists, and other leading experts have been attempting to answer that very question, trying to illustrate the situation with some evidence and elucidation that may help the world to respond better to these kinds of circumstances in the future and protect victims globally.
So far, experts have identified several key explanatory factors that can go some way towards illuminating the reasons why the world has seen such higher rates of domestic abuse in recent times:
Stress - The ultimate factor that often gets talked about in relation to domestic abuse during COVID-19 is stress. While this cannot excuse such terrible behavior, it does help to explain it. These are immensely stressful times for people all over the globe. Many people are stressed about losing their jobs, suffering financial hardship due to COVID-related consequences, losing a loved one, and so on. This stress can manifest itself as violence in some people.
Fear - Fear is another emotion that has been linked to the rise in domestic violence worldwide. Stuck indoors with their thoughts, many people are focusing on their fears related to work, future, health, family, and so on. When people are afraid, they can often lash out at others and fail to control their tempers and emotions effectively.
Lack of Activity - Another factor that may play a part in this so-called shadow pandemic is a simple lack of activity. Due to lockdowns, people have been cooped up indoors, not allowed to vent their stress or exert their energy in typical ways like playing sports, going to the gym, or getting out and about. Because of this, boredom, anger, and frustration have set in with a lot of people.
Alcohol - Often linked with domestic abuse of all kinds, alcohol is another serious threat during COVID-19 times. Stuck indoors with little to do, many people are turning to alcohol as an escape, and when someone with a violent temperament and abusive personality drinks alcohol, they may be more likely to hurt others and display their violent tendencies.
No Escape - Unfortunately for the victims of domestic abuse, lockdown rules make it harder than ever before for them to actually get away from their abusers. In regular times, a victim might be able to get out of the house, at least temporarily, or ask friends and family for help with their situation. During COVID, these kinds of escapes and options are simply much less viable than before.
Lack of Personal Space - People need some alone time and personal space now and then. Studies have shown that when people or even animals are cooped up together for too long, violent behavior can often ensue. This is especially true for people who already have abusive tendencies. However, during COVID, it's hard for anyone to get any kind of breathing room or find their own space, making them more likely to lash out and harm those around them.
It's clear to see that this pandemic is harming global populations in more ways than one, and the very measures being used to try and slow the spread and reduce the death toll have inadvertently caused a terrible rise in suffering for victims of domestic abuse. In response, more helplines and shelters have been set up to aid those in need, and it is hoped that more can be learned from this situation to provide better responses in future. You can also get help from a domestic violence lawyer.