Domestic violence can occur in any relationship, at any time.
According to the National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partner in America. One in three women and one in four men experience physical violence from a partner. On a typical day in America, domestic violence hotlines receive over 20,000 calls.
Now add a national emergency and strict quarantine measures into the mix. What is the result? Higher abuse rates, but less help available for victims.
Let’s review the links between domestic violence and social distancing, as well as the signs you’re living with an abusive partner.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors one partner uses to control the other. Domestic violence occurs in couples of all races, sexuality, religion, and age. It can occur early in a relationship or after years of marriage.
An abusive partner will use any means necessary to gain power over their partner.
Physical domestic abuse includes:
- Hitting, biting, or slapping
- Shoving or punching
- Denying medical treatment
- Forcing drugs or alcohol onto the partner
An abusive partner uses any means necessary to gain power.
Domestic violence includes psychological abuse. A person may use fear, guilt, shame, and verbal intimidation to wear down their significant other. The abuser wants to lower the victim’s self-esteem to make them dependent on the abuser.
Sexual abusers force their partners into unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity. Sexual violence includes marital rape, sexual assault, and sexually demeaning the victim.
Economic domestic violence makes the victim financially dependent on the abuser. The abuser will control the couple’s finances and prevent the victim from having a job.
Stalking is also a form of domestic violence. The perpetrator spies, harrases, and consistently contacts the victim. Cyberstalking refers to repeatedly distressing the victim online.
Domestic Violence and Social Distancing
The good news is DWI incidents are down in America. The bad news is domestic violence is up.
Right now, the US is experiencing unprecedented times. Government officials are ordering everyone to stay safe by staying home. For victims of domestic violence, home is not a safe place.
Domestic violence hotline operators have noted a decrease in calls since mandatory quarantine procedures went into place.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean there is less abuse. It means victims do not have a safe way to seek help.
Many domestic violence victims contact hotlines while at work or running errands. Now, victims are forced to stay home with their abusers.
The virus is making it difficult for shelters to operate, and many are at capacity. Some domestic abuse victims do not want to go to a shelter in fear of contracting the virus. Many domestic violence shelters are dorm-like, so it’s difficult to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In many cases, domestic violence results in medical attention. However, some victims fear visiting a hospital during an outbreak. In areas with an extreme number of COVID-19 cases, hospital beds are already limited.
Domestic Violence Increases During COVID-19
Domestic violence and quarantine are worldwide problems. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, domestic violence victims could rely on neighbors and public places to avoid abuse. But strict quarantine rules are making it impossible for victims to stay away from their abusers.
Victims may need help but are physically trapped with a dangerous partner.
Many states have implemented mandatory curfews. In these situations, domestic violence victims have two options: stay home with an abuser or risk legal implications.
China experienced numerous domestic violence issues during their COVID-19 crisis. Victims wanted to flee abusive partners but were unable to physically leave due to lockdown regulations. Domestic violence cases tripled in China during quarantine, and 90% of the violence was related to COVID-19.
Impact of Social Distancing on Domestic Abusers
COVID-19 has strained the world’s economy and is causing financial stress to Americans. It’s preventing people from working and going outside. It’s forcing abusers to spend more time with their victims.
National crises’ have historically led to increased domestic violence reports. Domestic assaults against women doubled during Hurricane Katrina. Following the hurricane, there were increased reports of both men and women suffering from psychological abuse.
As COVID-19 measures went into place, fear drove Americans to panic-buy. But they weren’t buying toilet paper. There were 2.6 million guns sold in the US in March, an 85% increase over March 2019.
When there is a gun in the home of a domestic violence abuser, the risk of homicide increases five times.
Signs of Domestic Violence
The first sign of living with an abusive partner is fear. If you feel like you are consistently waking on eggshells to avoid a blow-up, your relationship is not healthy.
A domestic abuser will:
- Have an explosive and unpredictable temper
- Make threats to hurt or kill the victim
- Threaten to take children away from the victim
- Destroy the victim’s personal property
- Act possessive
- Force the victim into sexual activity through physical means or guilt
- Prevent relationships with friends and family members
- Constantly check up on the victim
The abuser may exhibit belittling behaviors that aim to make their partner feel worthless. The abusive partner may humiliate, criticize, and ignore their partner. The abuser might treat the victim as a sexual object.
As a victim, you will feel that you can’t do anything right. You may believe you deserve the treatment you are receiving and wonder if you’re the one who is out of line. You will often feel numb, helpless, and ignored.
Help for Domestic Violence in Quarantine
Domestic violence and social distancing is not a good combination.
The decrease in personal freedoms result in higher rates of domestic abuse. Victims find it difficult to contact help and find a safe place during a national crisis. The result is domestic violence victims living in fear.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available for those who need assistance. The hotline is encouraging users to be wary of computer activity as it is traceable. Instead, victims should try to find a safe space to call the number.
Don’t forget domestic violence lawyers are on your side to help you recover from an abusive relationship. Contact our team to learn more about our services and how we help those in need.