Concern for domestic violence and abuse victims during the pandemic continues
Special to The Leader
After nearly a year of fighting off the coronavirus in the United States, domestic violence victims and abuse survivors are struggling now more than ever. Though recent vaccine distribution has signaled the beginning of the end of this pandemic for many Americans, intimate partner violence experts are worried that time may be running out for those forced to quarantine with an abuser.
Experts have repeatedly advised that staying at home is the best way to ensure you don’t fall ill or spread the coronavirus. This advice becomes complicated for domestic violence and abuse victims as home can be the most dangerous place of all. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States were at risk of experiencing severe physical violence at the hands of their partner in their lifetime. Now that many victims are likely spending more time with their partners and stressors are at an all time high, it’s expected that these rates have increased.
Unemployment, which has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, can be a major stressor that could result in more abuse being inflicted on victims. The additional stress of social isolation and losing access to social outlets for stress may also contribute to increased verbal altercations between partners and a greater likelihood of violence and abuse. The increased violence between parents in a household has also been linked to higher rates of child abuse. This rise in child abuse at home is especially troubling as children who experience abuse in their past are more likely to be revictimized and abused again in the future.
Intervention and prevention resources for domestic violence victims and survivors have been strained by the pandemic, making it more difficult for victims to find the help they need. Advocacy and support organizations that help domestic violence victims had to adapt to new restrictions during the pandemic.
Many local organizations have implemented online counseling and support groups as a way to reach isolated victims. In addition, national organizations have implemented online chat rooms that may make it easier for victims to contact help secretly and quickly. Mandated reporters like teachers may not be in regular contact with students and therefore may be unable to report child abuse. There are also major health concerns and risks as fears of catching the coronavirus may make victims less likely to seek medical treatment for injuries inflicted by an abuser.
Increased danger at home and strain on support resources have made this past year one of the most dangerous periods for domestic violence and abuse victims in history. The long-term consequences of this period have yet to be revealed but as the pandemic finally recedes it will be necessary for communities to provide extra support for those who struggled most during this difficult time.
Resources for abuse survivors can be found at: