The silver lining amid this quarantine is that it is an opportunity for families to spend time together. However, there has been concern by some that the quarantine could lead to an uptick in domestic violence in homes that are not safe for family members and even children. This is born out by data elsewhere in the world: France has seen a 30% increase in reports of domestic violence. Here in the United States, New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco have also seen a rise in reports of domestic violence. Moreover, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and pop singer Rihanna have donated millions to aid programs that serve the victims, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted about the women at risk during the quarantine.
Higher than normal stress
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three women and one in ten men in the U.S. experience violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime. About one in six homicide victims are killed by their partners. These are numbers from before the current pandemic. Still, there is a strong belief that those numbers will climb as the quarantine wears on, particularly in situations where there is a previous inclination towards this behavior.
“We found social factors that put people more at risk for violence are reduced access to resources, increased stress due to job loss or strained finances, and disconnection from social support systems,” said one research psychologist who studied the impact that Hurricane Harvey had on victims. “With this pandemic, we’re seeing similar things happen, which unfortunately leads to circumstances that can foster violence.”
Who is most at risk?
Groups of individuals disproportionally at risk at this time include:
- Couples with a previous history of violence
- Members of the LGBTQ community
- People of color
- Households with lower incomes
This can happen to anyone
While the above are most at risk, officials have found that any household can reach the breaking point. It may be due to unemployment, living in close quarters or instability in the relationship. Therefore, everyone must exercise additional patience, but it is also vital to report any incidents of violence. Even in a quarantine, folks here in Kentucky may need to seek a different safe place to shelter. It may also be necessary to take action to protect oneself and loved ones. The first step is notifying law enforcement, but it also may be essential to speak with an attorney about divorce, custody and other family law issues.