18 Oct study reveals increase in domestic violence during covid-19
A recent study found over half of women experiencing ongoing domestic violence reported an increase in its frequency or severity during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study also revealed that nearly half of women subjected to ongoing coercive control reported an increase in emotionally abusive, harassing and controlling behaviours during the same period.
The Australian Institute of Criminology released the findings in its latest publication of Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice. Authors Hayley Boxall and Anthony Morgan embarked on the study to understand how vulnerable groups of women were impacted by the social distancing restrictions imposed during the early stages of COVID-19.
The results show that domestic violence against women during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic was not evenly distributed across the Australian community, but more likely to occur among specific groups.
Domestic violence and coercive control data
The online survey of 15,000 Australian women was conducted in May 2020. It identified high levels of self-reported domestic violence among women during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It found:
• 4.2 per cent of women had experienced physical violence from a cohabiting partner;
• 2.2 per cent of women had experienced sexual violence; and
• 5.8 per cent had experienced coercive control (Boxall, Morgan & Brown 2020).
When compared to the six-month period prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, 53.1 per cent were experiencing more severe or more frequent sexual and/or physical violence from a partner, and 47 per cent experienced greater levels of coercive control.
The most vulnerable
The women identified as more likely than others to have experienced physical or sexual violence and/or coercive control were women with a restrictive long-term health condition, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from non-English-speaking backgrounds and women with children.
Younger women were more likely than older women to experience domestic violence, and the more financial stress respondents were under, the more likely they were to report experiencing domestic violence.
What the study means for domestic violence support services
The study’s authors conclude that the information is vital for ensuring that support services can meet the needs of women who disclose experiences of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, while social distancing measures are in place, and as these measures are lifted.
Taken together, they argue the results illustrate that the risk of domestic violence is not evenly distributed across the Australian community, and this holds true even during the pandemic. Relatedly, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on situational stressors and relationship dynamics may not be evenly distributed across the community.
To read the full report, visit https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi618
If you or someone you know is concerned with regards to domestic violence, in particular during the COVID-19 period, we recommend the following resources:
Please don’t suffer on your own – Domestic and Family Violence is a crime. The NSW Police Force and Domestic Violence Frontline Services are prepared and ready to support victims and their families at any time.
Please call Triple Zero (000) and 1800RESPECT.
Our experienced solicitors are able to provide you with family law advice if you have experienced family violence during your relationship. Contact us today.