In a recent Statistics Canada survey conducted in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, 10% of women and 6% of men reported that they were concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. The rise of domestic violence is not unique to Canada. Worldwide, rates of domestic abuse climbed steadily as countries went into lockdown mode. Since March of 2020, at least 1/2 of the world’s population has been or is currently in lockdown. Stuck at home with their abusers, often cut off from support systems, victims have found themselves facing an increased risk of abuse. Isolation is a powerful tool that many abusers use on their victims. During lockdowns, those experiencing abuse have become even more isolated from any supports, such as friends and family, the workplace, or social agencies.
The social problems that arise from a crisis such as this also create conditions that put certain families at even greater risks of abuse. Job loss, financial strain, and suddenly having children at home 24/7 adds more stress to the household. A similar post-COVID-19 survey showed that parents’ top concern about their families is how to balance the responsibilities of childcare, schooling and work. In fact, 74% of the participants reported feeling very or extremely concerned about this issue.
As these situational circumstances continue, violence against women and girls will also continue to rise. However, even though rates of domestic violence have skyrocketed, many police services and agencies have noticed a decrease in calls regarding abuse. The reasoning is that so many women are unable to get away from their abuser and are facing greater control and scrutiny, with no safe place to call or email for help.
This current health pandemic seems to be far from over, which means it is imperative we take the increasing rates of domestic violence seriously. As members of a community, we can check in on those we know - our family, friends, neighbours, and coworkers. Look out for warning signs of abuse, and if you are concerned, learn how to safely help.