Domestic Violence Reports Surge During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Noa Prados 

With the rise of COVID-19 cases and stay-at-home orders being put into place, cases of domestic violence have risen dramatically.

Data published by Joseph Hayes and Heather Harris on the Public Policy Institute of California represents an initial spike of cases of domestic violence in the early months of quarantine. However, cases of domestic violence did not remain on a steady incline following lockdown orders. Instead, cases of domestic violence began to level out in cities like Oakland and San Francisco, while cases in Los Angeles saw a rapid decline after the initial incline, followed by some fluctuation.

Not only did cases initially rise, but the domestic violence hotline received an increase in calling traffic. The data represented by Hayes and Harris reflects an increase in “requests for survivor services” being up across the state of California. 

They report, “Los Angeles County’s hotline saw 70% more calls this March compared to last year,” while Sacramento saw a near “threefold year-over-year increase in April.” Gavin Newsom’s approval for over five million dollars towards ride and home sharing corporations in order to meet the needs of domestic violence survivors is mentioned in the report as well.

One of the largest organizations aimed in ending domestic violence throughout California is the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. On their website, they mention that they are California’s most recognized domestic violence alliance, with over one thousand advocates to fight for the end of domestic violence.

One of their most strong setting policy regulations is to aim to promote comprehensive legislation, thus enacting policies that will address the drastic implications of being a survivor of domestic violence.

In a Radiology published study detailing the significant rise of domestic violence, it is revealed that reports of domestic violence have not only increased in California, but in a worldwide sense as well. It is mentioned in this study that this global increase in domestic violence cases is attributable to the mandatory restrictions and lockdowns put into place due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The study relates socioeconomic status to possible increases in cases of domestic violence. Additionally, the study denotes stay at home lockdown and quarantine orders (causing an increase in substance abuse), and a lack of support from one’s community to be potential influential factors in the rise of cases of domestic violence.

The authors of the study suggest the possible scenario of underreporting for domestic violence cases, for a variety of reasons. Those staying at home in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown cause limitations to the ways in which survivors or other individuals can file a report, or seek help in general.

The study mentions the possibility of survivors being wary of seeking help being attributable to the fact that “many ambulatory clinics are no longer seeing as many patients in person due to the virus and are instead pivoting their services to virtual consultation.” 

This is an obstacle for many survivors facing domestic violence, as often survivors rarely get time away from their abuser and in turn do not have the capability to freely communicate with a professional via a virtual consultation.

This reason, along with the reasons mentioned previously, should be regarded as being caused by the restrictions and regulations put into place due to COVID-19. In these times of quarantine, it is extremely important to remember the ideology of “if you see something, say something”.

With this in mind, if you or someone you know is or could potentially be suffering from domestic violence, you may be saving an individual’s life by coming forward and letting someone’s voice be heard. For more information and ways to contribute to end domestic violence, visit the resources found here.

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