With the wave of corona virus hitting us in 2020 a lot of things changed. This global pandemic forced all countries to unite and take some serious measures. The measures that would give us the best chance of surviving this deadly virus. And the ones that almost every country took are wearing masks, social distancing and lockdown. However lockdowns in countries across Europe have been effective at reducing the coronavirus infection curve. But they were also the main reason of the increase of domestic abuse cases around the globe.
As more and more countries are quarantined, activists from around the world speak up about those victims and asks the governments for their help.
A retired police officer and now the founder of an anti-domestic violence nonprofit in Jingzhou Wan Fei, spoke on an interview with about the increase in reports. He said that the police station in Jianli County, had received 162 reports of domestic violence in February. Therefore, almost three times more than the 47 reported during the same month the previous year.
“The epidemic has had a huge impact on domestic violence,” said Wan. “According to our statistics, 90% of the causes of violence are related to the COVID-19 epidemic.”
It is not an isolated issue, its worldwide
Here are some statistics from around the world that show how big of an effect lockdown had. After the reports of abuse jumped by 36% since the lockdown began and two women have been murdered in France. The French government has offered to pay for hotel rooms for domestic violence victims. Also, according to the National Commission for women in Australia Internet searches for domestic violence support networks rose by 75%. The UK isn’t very far from that either, as the national domestic abuse helpline has experienced a 25% increase in calls and online requests.
In the south the situation isn’t any better either, as India reported the doubling of abuse cases double in the first week of restrictions. Between 23 March and 16 April NCW registered 587 domestic violence complaints, according to Al Jazeera’s reports. In addition to that Tunisia’s women’s affairs minister says that, abuse cases have gone up at five times the usual rate since the curfew was imposed back in March.
So, what are the reasons behind these terrifying numbers?
The risk of infection and the already implemented restrictions were served to the abusers on a silver platter. Therefore, giving them total control over their victims. Kids and adults are now trapped by their abusers with no way out. As they use specific tactics to slowly but surely gain all the control. Firstly, by forbidding any contact with the outside world, under the umbrella of social distancing. And then they have total freedom and a free pass to act however they want. This unfortunately results in this lockdown becoming a prison for domestic abuse victims.
However, trapping them isn’t the worst thing that they face. With these stressful times and difficult economic situation, many abusers take it out on their victims. They blame them and make the victim pay for the stress and distress that they are feeling. Their angry and aggressive tendencies plus these stressful times, that normal functioning people have a hard time dealing with, most likely equals in destruction. And in some cases, adding alcohol or other substances to the mix.
While men can face domestic abuse too, the most vulnerable in these cases are women and children. And if you do not have to face these issues it doesn’t necessary mean that they are too far away. Check up on your friends, neighbors and even family to ensure their safety. And find out how you can help others from home!
How to help
In these hard times we have to look out for each other, and not let those abusers take advantage of the lockdown. So, what can you do if you know someone that may be in this situation?
Firstly, according to official at WHO, you should:
- Try to keep in touch with them at any cost. Talk to them regularly in any way you can to ensure their safety and be aware of their state.
- Find out what services for survivors of violence against women are functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic and make this information available through your networks and social media.
- If someone you know needs urgent help for whatever reason, be prepared to call emergency health services, the police, health center, or hotline
- And remember only provide this information directly if you can do it discretely without the abuser finding out.
And if you are facing this situation here is what you should do, according to WHO. Firstly, find a trusty friend, relative, neighbor or safe shelter to go to in case of emergency. Secondly, keep with you a few essentials hidden in case you need to flee fast. And lastly, be safe and make sure you have a calculated plan with when and how you are going to leave and where you are going to.
Here are a few international hotlines that can help: