From the outset of the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shelter in place, quarantine and lockdown orders, we have been concerned about the potential rise in domestic violence. Unfortunately, domestic violence has risen across the globe in the wake of this pandemic.
In the U.K., for example, London’s Metropolitan Police reported carrying out over 4,000 domestic abuse-related arrests in the first 6 weeks of lockdown, and that calls related to domestic violence had gone up by a third. A U.K. based hotline reported receiving 49% more calls.
“According to the U.N, calls to domestic violence helplines have tripled in China and doubled in Malaysia and Lebanon. In Australia, online searches for domestic violence assistance have surged to the highest levels in five years, according to the UN. And in Paris, the city has seen a 36% increase in domestic violence calls after France’s lockdown went into place.” (Source: Forbes)
In the U.S., just between mid-March to early April, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has received more than 2,300 calls where COVID-19 was specifically cited as part of the abuse–namely, abusers might prevent healthcare or other essential workers from going to work, or abusers would exert power and control over access to soap, showers, or sanitizers.
And the new report by the UN Population Fund and its partners John Hopkins University in the U.S. and Victoria University in Australia estimates that for every 3 months lockdown continues, we can expect an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence.
While these news reports focus on the abuse of women, naturally and devastatingly with domestic violence, children are inevitably also involved.
The Implications of the Coronavirus for Domestic Violence
Being cooped up with one’s abuser not only increases the violence within the home, it means not having normal escapes (like school or work) from the abuse. Getting help is also more difficult when it’s harder to escape. Alternatively, women may fear going to a shelter out of worry of contracting the virus.
Furthermore, the normal services are less accessible when shelter-in-place restrictions have caused women’s shelters to close or restrict their intake, law enforcement may not be able to respond as well, and counseling services may become unavailable.
Hampered access to contraceptives is expected to leave an impact. It is expected that unintended pregnancies will increase, as well as unsafe attempts at abortions, and possibly an increase in pregnancy-related deaths.
What We’re Doing
Knowing these global trends, our team is on high alert for any signs of distress among our students. In lieu of in-person activities, our staff are holding regular calls to check in with our students and their families – video calls are especially helpful in letting our staff read the situation and see if someone is doing all right. Our friends at OOCA are very generously offering free video counseling calls. And we’re working to make internet packages available to students who otherwise would not have access so that they can remain connected in case they need help.
We’ve raised over $12,300 in emergency funds. We hope to raise a total of $20,000 to meet our students’ and community’s needs through the rest of the year. Can you help us get there? If you can help support us, please donate here: https://thefreedomstory.org/donate/