COVID-19 and Domestic Violence
By: Isabelle Siegel
When the COVID-19 pandemic began and stay-at-home orders were first put into place, it was predicted that domestic violence rates would soar. With people confined to their homes, it was only natural that the potential for abuse would become higher. At the onset of the stay-at-home orders, the United Nations Population Fund estimated that just three months of quarantine would yield a 20% increase in domestic violence worldwide. Why? Without work and other escapes from the home, people are forced to remain with their abusive partners at all times. Moreover, orders to remain at home complicate the process of seeking support from friends and professionals. Other factors such as higher stress levels, alcohol use, and economic anxiety may also contribute to increased rates of domestic violence.
However, there has been a surprising decrease in reports of domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence arrests are down a shocking 40%. Is the rate of domestic violence truly decreasing, or is something else at play?
Unfortunately, the statistics paint a misleading picture. In reality, anecdotal evidence suggests that domestic violence is at a high. Experts suggest that the drop in reports of domestic violence is just that: a drop in reports, not in incidents. Victims quarantining with their abusers are simply less able to call for help, as evidenced by the fact that more calls to hotlines and the police are coming from neighbors and other witnesses. Domestic violence calls most frequently occur when the abuser is not home or the victim is at work. With fewer opportunities to be apart from their abuser, victims are forced to remain silent. Other pandemic-related factors further render victims less likely to seek help. For example, victims report avoiding going to the hospital for domestic violence-related injuries due to fear of catching COVID-19.
Moreover, instances of domestic violence seem to be becoming increasingly violent amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Despite the overall decrease in domestic violence reports, there have been increases in rates of domestic violence-related shootings and murders.
If you or a loved one needs support for domestic violence, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/