DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND COVID-19
Domestic violence is the term used to describe abuse that occurs between two individuals in an intimate relationship consisting of one or more of the following: emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, or economic abuse. Domestic violence affects millions of people and often results in physical and or emotional injury. The most serious cases of domestic violence can lead to death. During stressful times - like a global pandemic, domestic cases rise as well.
COVID-19 stay at home orders have prevented millions of people from spreading and contracting the virus, which was immensely helpful in flattening the curve. However, many individuals who were in an abusive or violent relationship were put in danger due to those stay at home orders. The United Nations Population Fund predicts that at least 15 million additional cases of IPV (intimate partner violence) will occur because of COVID-19 lockdowns.
WARNING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
AARDVARC (An Abuse, Rape, Domestic Violence Aid, and Resource Collection) has provided a list of warning signs to look for in order to recognize people who may be victims of domestic violence. The following are possible warning signs that a person who is experiencing abuse in their relationship may exhibit:
- Teens, men, or women who are often absent from school or work
- Individuals who have numerous injuries that they try to explain away, such as bruises or black eyes
- Individuals with low self-esteem, who show a sudden change in their personality, and engage in passive aggressive behavior
- Individuals who have a fear of conflict, blame themselves, and seem isolated from friends and family
- Individuals who demonstrate stress related physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, trouble sleeping, or skin rashes
If you suspect that someone you know, whether it be a family member, friend, or co-worker, may be a victim of domestic violence, there are action steps that you can take to help.
- Be aware of the above warning signs and be on the look out for these signs
- Ask the right questions. Open ended questions are the most effective in recognizing domestic violence. For example, instead of asking "Do you and your partner argue a lot?", ask "How do you and your partner tend to disagree with each other?". Questions should only be asked when the individual is alone with you or a professional versus being asked these personal questions in front of their partner, child, or other family member. It is important to remember to be sensitive and understanding when asking these questions.
- If the victim is able to see a professional, you should provide information and other resources in their community regarding shelters, housing, financial services, and other support. Of course these will differ depending on your local area, but here is a general resource to get you started.
While the stay at home orders have aided us immensely in slowing the spread of COVID-19, victims of domestic violence do not have to suffer in silence.