A recent review of violence statistics by the Council on Criminal Justice found that domestic violence increased in the United States by 8.1% during the COVID-19 pandemic. The review also looked at international studies in six other countries and found that domestic violence increased by an average of 7.8% internationally.
The paper reviewed multiple U.S. and international studies that compared changes in domestic violence incidents before and after jurisdictions began imposing pandemic-related lockdowns in early 2020. The paper isn't meant to bash lockdown orders, which are certainly necessary, but to shed light on the adverse impacts they had, including on domestic violence.
Researchers drew in a wide range of data from logs of police calls, to crime reports, to health records. Eighteen studies were included in the system review; 12 of which were from the U.S. and six more from: Australia, Argentina, Mexico, India, Italy and Sweden.
Overall, the study provided 37 estimates of domestic violence changes before and after lockdowns were implemented in the countries studied. Eight of those estimates reported a decrease in domestic violence whereas 29 reported an increase. The result of the study confirms concerns raised by public health leaders, women's groups, and survivor advocates, researchers say: that domestic violence is on the rise during the pandemic, although it's still unclear what is driving the rise in violence.
Essentially, everyone in the United States was taken away from everything they’re used to and forced to stay home all the time. Employment losses and increased stress and anxiety combined with this and created more instances of domestic violence. Additionally, victims of domestic violence likely experienced isolation from friends and neighbors who would normally be the ones to spot and report abuse. This extends to children, too. Teachers are some of the most likely people to spot abuse, but with kids out of school, no one was checking up on them.
The study is the latest examination of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected domestic violence around the world, including in countries such as Morocco and across regions such as Latin America. In Latin America, gender-based violence has reached an all-time high since the COVID-19 pandemic. Peru, Brazil, and Mexico have all reported huge increases in murders and disappearances of women.
An author of the study, Alex Piquero, says countries need to be ensuring their domestic violence shelters remain adequately staffed and resourced through the pandemic, particularly as the spread of new COVID-19 variants prompt further lockdowns. Piquero also recommends police do more welfare checks on homes where domestic violence calls have previously come from.
If you are a victim of domestic violence seeking legal immigration status, please reach out to Mil Mujeres Legal Services for help. You may qualify for legal immigration status through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), U visa, or other programs.