In a typical year alone, 243 million women and girls experience intimate partner violence. However, since the pandemic’s start in 2020, calls to help centers have increased as much as five times, according to research from UN Women. The damaging effects of domestic violence reach far into our society and unfortunately, the full scope is uncertain as many incidents go unreported.
The consequences of the pandemic reached far and wide and were felt by millions. There is no doubt that the average stresses of daily life grew in amount as well as type. Concerns about security and health, unemployment and financial worries as well as cramped living conditions during lockdown all were, and still are, real anxieties felt by the population. During the lockdown specifically, there was an increased opportunity for being alone with abusers as people were restricted to move. Victims were essentially kept at the mercy of their abusers with no options.
The reasons why incidents go unreported can be complex. Many victims feel too embarrassed to report and lack privacy, especially in smaller communities. They may feel society’s pressure of making victims stay in their uncomfortable situation. Many victims also feel financially dependent upon their partner as well as may fear losing custody of their children if they were to come forward. The psychological impact of abuse makes it even harder to leave. The “make-up” period strengthens the bond and makes victims believe the abuse will end. Part of the abuse is often isolating victims away from friends and family, which was made drastically easier with the COVID lockdowns.
There are many ways to help stop domestic violence and to aid in the protection of victims. Be aware of the warning signs and know they are not always blatant. Domestic violence often doesn’t start right away. Warning signs include abusers wanting to control all financial decisions, intentionally damaging property as well as showing jealousy when time is spent with different people other than the partner. It is crucial not to ignore even the slightest sign of domestic violence as in many cases a friend or family member is aware of the abuse.
Check out the infographic below to learn more about the warning signs of domestic violence and ways to help break the cycle.