The COVID-19 crisis has created what many are calling “a pandemic within a pandemic.” Rising numbers of sick people, isolation, growing unemployment, increased anxiety and financial stress, and a scarcity of community resources have set the stage for an exacerbated domestic violence crisis. The release of prisoners and the halting of arrests due to COVID-19 has removed a vital means by which domestic violence is interrupted and prevented. Domestic violence survivors are less likely to seek shelter due to fears of catching the virus in a congregated setting and are faced with the inability to call crisis lines with the abuser at home. Shelter client numbers have now begun to increase and are expected to continue to rise.
40,000 fewer child abuse cases were reported nationally during the first six months of 2020. Children are attending school remotely which removes a vital avenue for disclosure for abuse when they cannot see their teachers, guidance counselors or other trusted adults on a regular basis.
Evidence shows that rates of sexual violence increase during states of emergency, including natural disasters, active conflict, and health crises. According to the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, the stress, fear, and sense of helplessness associated with emergencies tend to increase risk factors for perpetration of violence against women. (Source: Council on Foreign Relations)