As the nation grapples with the spread of COVID-19, Americans are being told to go home and stay there to ensure their safety. But for victims and survivors of domestic violence, including children exposed to such violence, the home may not be the safest. One in four men in the United States lives in a house with a victim of violence, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An unprecedented stress pandemic could lead to more violence in homes where violence may not have been an issue before. The victims’ risk is high. More than one-third of men and one in five women in America have experienced violence from their intimate partner at some point in their lives.
Roughly one in six homicide victims has been killed. Two-thirds of all domestic violence victims in the United States have suffered at least one serious injury or death. CDC data have linked intimate partner violence to an increased risk of injury and death, as well as higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Experts now fear a rise in domestic violence and rising rates of child abuse, particularly among young children.
In families that had already experienced domestic violence, they also found that stress related to the disaster led to increased child abuse cases and violence among young children.
Stress and social isolation increase domestic violence risk, and we found that it can increase the risk of violence.
Covid-19 and Domestic Violence in 2020
Other factors could contribute to the rise in violence and partnerships, including fewer opportunities to find security and help. Survivors and victims can escape violent situations by filing a protection order with the police, going to a home, or staying with a family member.
But for many, such options are not readily available at the moment – emergency rooms are full, shelters are scarce, or close at about the same time. Some people fear COVID-19 and don’t want to go public.
Research has shown that race and age play a significant role in the experience of intimate partner abuse, with minorities and older women particularly vulnerable. In more impoverished neighborhoods, the rate of violence is higher, and longitudinal studies have shown that women with disabilities are at higher risk of domestic violence than women without disabilities. Women with mental health problems, and children with special needs are among the highest risk of domestic violence.
Many Americans who are exposed to financial stress due to business or other closures will also be at higher risk of physical and emotional abuse. Mental health problems and mental illness, said Dr. John D. Schmitt, a psychology professor at the University of California, San Diego, who studies child abuse. Many families may also not have access to social media. Another risk factor that children need to stay connected with friends and extended families.
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To make matters worse, the children are experiencing stress due to the pandemic‘s uncertainty. Stressed parents may be more aggressive and abusive in responding to pressure, Jackson-Damashek said. Parents should focus on keeping their stress to a minimum by talking to each other and limiting their media exposure.