Anti-domestic violence campaigners are concerned that the impact of the coronavirus is putting extra pressure on the sector.
Self-isolation can lead to an increase in domestic violence as people are ‘stuck’ indoors with no way to vent their frustrations and fears. For many, the ‘forced’ isolation acts as a trigger for violence.
Concerns about job stability, unemployment, weakening economies and global recession coupled with the feeling of being trapped can easily push domestic violence perpetrators over the edge. The thing to remember is that the coronavirus disaster is overlaying on other disasters that are happening in people’s lives.
Isolation and financial abuse are common features of domestic abuse relationships, which campaigners warn will only be further exacerbated during this pandemic. According to Rebecca Hitchen, campaigns manager at the End Violence Against Women Coalition, “The imposition of self-isolation can amplify the abuser’s ability to restrict women’s freedoms and leave them at heightened risk.”
These comments echo the concerns of Jeremy Corbyn, who raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week: “Every fortnight three women are killed by their partner or ex-partner,” he said. “Domestic violence is only likely to increase if large numbers of people are having to self isolate.”
These secondary effects of the pandemic are already being experienced in China, with activists reporting a surge in cases of domestic abuse as a result of the lockdown. Wan Fei, a retired police officer who now runs an anti-domestic violence nonprofit organisation in Jingzhou, Hubei, said the number of cases has almost doubled since the quarantine began. “The epidemic has had a huge impact on domestic violence,” the activist said. “According to our statistics, 90% of the causes of violence are related to the Covid-19 epidemic.”
Victims of domestic violence are urged to reach out to trusted friends and professionals. From simple measures like the use of panic buttons in the home to arranging “safe words” with friends or family outside the home, measures must be taken to protect victims of abuse.
Red Alert offers Emergency Out of Home solutions in app format so if you are afraid that you may be headed for isolation and potential abuse, download the emergency app from your Google Play store.