Pandemic Causes Spike in Domestic Violence


Lance Cpl. Michelle S. Mattei

Isolation regulations have caused domestic violence cases to spike.

“We’re all in the same boat,” many people have said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while some people are practicing social distancing with supportive family members, others are in danger because quarantine rules have trapped them in unsafe environments with harmful partners or family members.

Before the current pandemic, public spaces, such as schools and workplaces, served as a refuge for victims of domestic abuse. Now, the isolation regulations have caused domestic violence cases to spike since abusees spend more time at home with their abusers. NBC News reached out to 22 police departments across the United States, 18 of which reported receiving a higher number of calls about domestic violence since the beginning of lockdown. Another article from The Guardian cited that the National Domestic Violence Hotline received 951 calls that specifically mentioned COVID-19 between March 10 and March 24.

Many victims are hesitant to escape to shelters because they fear exposure to the virus. Nonprofit shelters are also struggling to continue operations due to a lack of funding. Domestic violence hotlines may also be unavailable to many people, as their abusers may monitor all of their communication. Some resources that provide assistance and support to victims of domestic abuse, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, have released suggestions specifically designed to be used while practicing social distancing. One of these suggestions is creating a safety plan, which involves planning ways to remain safe in a relationship, to leave, and to alert family members.

A New York Times article revealed the reality for many people around the world; Lele, a woman whose full name was concealed to protect her identity, said, “During the epidemic, we were unable to go outside, and our conflicts just grew bigger and bigger and more and more frequent…Everything was exposed.”

Community members are recognizing the magnitude of the situation and trying to help alleviate the problem. A fundraising initiative started by Alaina Colby ’21, Defense for the Defenseless, encourages people to donate towards the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It also sells apparel, such as sweatshirts and t-shirts, where 100% of profits go to local charity organizations in New England. More information can be found on the organization’s Instagram account @defenseforthedefenseless

In addition, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to speak with trained advocates.