Domestic Violence Reaches New Heights During Pandemic
Detailed report demonstrates that the pandemic caused a major increase in domestic violence.
Domestic violence is never okay. However, the pandemic lockdowns and economic turmoil of Covid-19 caused a severe (almost 10%) increase in domestic violence. And some experts say that is merely the floor and not the real number.
How do we know?
It’s hard to quantify domestic violence because it so often goes unreported but this increase was quantified by looking at not just police reports but also police call logs, hospital visits and a major spike in the calls into domestic violence hotlines.
Non-profits of all colors have been stretched thin by the pandemic. There was a point where there were close to no dogs available because people adopted them. Unfortunately, now that lockdowns are lifting around the country, many irresponsible pet owners are returning or simply releasing those adopted pets.
Unfortunately, the same strain on domestic violence shelters has only grown. Male unemployment, homeschooling kids and added economic pressure have turned loves ones against each other.
What about the weather?
A group of scientists studied the effects of “thermal stress” in a fascinating 2019 study that they have recently updated. What this study showed is that people are more likely to experience “an increase in joy of destruction” when temperatures rise. In other words, when the temperature goes up, so do violent crimes.
In fact, this study goes on to point out that, “heat only affects violent crimes while property crimes are not affected by higher temperatures.”
And this is not the only study with similar results. A study completed in 2018 specifically tracked the rise in IPV (intimate partner violence) after heat waves.
Is this an excuse?
Absolutely not! There is never a justifiable reason for violence against your spouse or your children. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, you are not to blame.
It’s important for all of us to take a step back and consider the wider ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic. And how that global experience can directly impact what’s happening in our own homes.
Stress is a real thing and has physiological effects on our bodies. The National Institute of Mental Health points out that long term stress can harm your health but there are ways to cope with stress.
If domestic violence has already occurred in your home, you need to report it. If you are living in fear of future domestic violence, you have people who want to help you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and is available over 200 languages. Their number is 1-800-799-7233.
Oftentimes people believe that mental or emotional abuse does not qualify as domestic violence. There was a Los Angeles County case in 2014, Rodriguez v. Menjivar that a judge also agreed that mental abuse didn’t qualify. Then the Appeals Court overturned that ruling.
Mental or emotional abuse also plays a role during divorce and subsequent custody hearings. It’s always important to seek help when you are abused. It’s also legally helpful if you document any domestic violence via notes and reaching out to loved ones.
Can You Prevent Domestic Violence?
This is a difficult question because the reason behind domestic violence is so varied. Yes, as noted above weather can play a role but that doesn’t mean super cold places never experience violence.
Sometimes abusers have deeply ingrained behavioral issues. And in order to avoid committing violence, they need to seek medical attention.
In other cases someone is dealing with an extraordinary combination of circumstances that pushes them to do something that is truly out of their character. Imagine the doting mother at the end of her rope who strikes her child one and only one time.
There are ways to alleviate stress, which can decrease the probability of domestic violence.
On a personal level, meditation always sounds corny until you try it. Learning to check in with your own emotional state so you can tell when you need to take a break is a classic parenting tool. And can be used by any person.
In your household, you can help alleviate stress by maintaining cleanliness. Taking input from others about schedules. Especially during Pandemic Lockdowns when people are living in much tighter quarters without breaks. Little things like setting aside special areas for personal use or working together to develop menus can make a difference.
However, at the end of the day every single adult is responsible for their own actions. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you are not to blame. It doesn’t mean you should have tried meditation or working on compromises more. Violence is never okay. But if you are in a relationship that has hit a rocky season and you see the impacts of the global pandemic on your partner, there’s no such thing as getting help too early.
There is a percentage of people that are only committing domestic violence because the weight of their situation is too much to handle. That’s why there is an increase of domestic violence during the pandemic. And help is available for those people as well. Healthy relationships require a lot of work. Conflict resolution is not a human instinct, it is learned.
It’s not your job to excuse or prevent domestic violence against you or your kids. However, working with your partner so that neither of you get to that point is obviously the ideal solution.