Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Contributed to an Increase in Domestic Violence?

As people across the nation empty store shelves of milk, bread, toilet paper, and other necessities, many face additional worries of being stuck at home with no way to escape an abusive partner. Think of these facts:

· Millions of people aren’t safe from abuse in the home, but local, state and federal government officials are telling everyone to stay home for safety’s sake.

· For some, the workplace provided a reprieve from violence and emotional abuse. Now, these people are forced to work from home.

· For other people, the school was the only place their children were safe from abuse. Today, those kids must engage in distance learning.

· If a victim plans to leave, they may save money in hopes of an escape. Now, most people are using that money for everyday expenses because they’re out of work.

These are the sorts of problems that, as most of the country is locked down, have researchers worried about a rise in domestic violence.

A Looming Threat

Even before coronavirus turned our world upside down, about 20 people in the US became the victims of domestic violence every minute. Researchers say that 25% of American women and one in seven men have experienced violence from an intimate partner. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every person’s physical and social environment, and these changes increase the risk of domestic violence and the need for a criminal defense lawyer. The country’s police departments are modifying their response plans to prepare for the increase and to help victims get help as social distancing rules remain in place.

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Domestic Violence is About Control and Power

Today, numerous factors are leading people to feel as if they have no control over their lives. Routines for exercise, education, socializing, and work are disrupted. Millions have filed for unemployment or have had their work hours reduced. Those with pre-existing medical conditions are more susceptible and often unable to seek help.

When a person feels powerless in one part of life, they may try to establish power in other areas. This is especially risky in situations involving domestic violence because the abuse is an effort by one person to maintain dominance over another. Because no one knows how long these shelter-in-place orders may last, the situation may be more dangerous than past disasters. Domestic violence hotlines are receiving calls from victims whose abusers won’t let them leave the house or are threatening to change the locks if they do leave.

Potential Solutions

Thankfully, people in positions of power are becoming aware of the problem. The $2 trillion CARES Act includes help for non-profit organizations that support victims, allowing them to meet payroll and apply for loans. Mental health organizations are offering suggestions to help struggling families reduce stress and uncertainty in the home.

In other parts of the world, a person suffering from abuse can seek help by visiting a pharmacy (one of the few businesses still open during the pandemic) and using a code phrase. In other places, motels are offering vacant rooms to those in need of shelter from abuse while still maintaining social distancing.

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How We Can Help

Domestic violence is more widespread than most people think, and we can all help. Reach out to a loved one to maintain that connection and consider setting up regular check-ins and code words to indicate a need for help. The coronavirus presents challenges for everyone. While it’s difficult to be stuck at home, there’s help available to those suffering from domestic violence.