Domestic violence or abuse is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It can also be referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV). Domestic violence or abuse can occur in any relationship and affects individuals of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence or abuse, can include behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, or prevent a partner from doing what they want.
Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in his or her lifetime. IPV affects over 12 million people each year. These statistics are staggering even during so called “normal” times. What we are facing now, is far from normal. Most of the United States and other countries have utilized mandatory lockdowns to lessen the spread of COVID-19 (more commonly known as coronavirus). While these policies are in place to protect individuals, now more people are forced to spend all day with their abuser, isolated from family and friends.
Some tactics abusers are using is the fear of catching COVID-19 and victims are afraid of being locked out of their residence. Another method is the abuser claims to have, or actually has, symptoms of COVID 19 and uses that to guilt the victim into remaining. Other threats include withholding medical assistance or financial resources. Victims of domestic violence or abuse are now afraid to seek out medical assistance due to being exposed to COVID-19. Victims of domestic violence usually wait until their perpetrators have left the residence before calling 911, but with the mandatory lockdowns, victims are now very limited in when they are able to call.
On March 18th, an interview was conducted with a representative from the National Domestic Violence Hotline agency. It was reported that their calls increased when there were around 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Now with more than 46,000 cases, the call numbers will certainly increase. It was found in China during their mandatory lockdown in February, the number of domestic violence cases tripled.
There is a vast amount of data regarding the effects that domestic violence has on children. These effects can include emotional harm, physical harm, or even inhibit normal brain development. What can you do? Look out for your neighbors. Now more than ever even if we are physically distancing ourselves, we cannot socially isolate ourselves. While maintaining physical distancing, check in with family or friends. A simple text message can go a long way. We are calling anyone who is still working out in the community, such as mail carriers, sanitation workers, utility workers, to be aware of the houses they pass. Take notice of anything that you may see or hear that could be a concern. Please report to Law Enforcement or you can also make an anonymous call to the Indiana Department of Child Services at 1-800-800-5556. One can also report a case of domestic violence at 1-800-799-7233. For more information on how you can help, and how to do more to prevent child maltreatment, please look for additional resources on our website, and please visit our Facebook page, as we will have many educational opportunities and virtual events coming up.
–Prevent Child Abuse Indiana Team
Godin, M. (2020, March 18). As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look for a Way Out. Retrieved from https://time.com/5803887/coronavirus-domestic-violence-victims/?fbclid=IwAR2-42LCy-piqtkYHgzhYoYJSIL8d_isnbO_xjs2eezNOw_WCLlnhSJ1C9U
National Domestic Violence Hotline. What is Domestic Violence? Retrieved from https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/