Domestic violence is a chronic problem even in normal times. But with the coronavirus pandemic, the last two years have been anything but normal. Shutdowns and quarantines created conditions ripe for an even worse festering of domestic problems. Add in stress, anxiety, financial problems, and a slower legal system and you have a perfect storm for unsettled and increasingly violent home environments.
It’s described as a pandemic within a pandemic. The pressures of staying home coupled with the stresses of the pandemic can make a dangerous environment even more volatile for domestic abuse victims.
According to Snopes, there’s ample evidence that disaster situations often lead to a surge in violence that women, girls, and trans and non-binary people are at highest risk of experiencing. This includes intimate partner violence, emotional abuse, and sexual violence. With the economic impact of the pandemic, abusive relationships may be harder to leave when many victims are financially dependent on abusive partners.
Carol Gunlock, former Executive Director of the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the pandemic made it much more difficult for victims to get jobs and leave shelters to re-establish their lives.
In March of 2021, the One Place Family Justice Center, the Montgomery Police Department, and District Attorney Daryl Bailey acknowledged that domestic violence homicides in the Montgomery area have risen during the pandemic. This lines up with national data: according to a survey conducted by Review of Economics of the Household, staying at home due to COVID-19 increased domestic violence by more than five percent on average during the spring of 2020.
Yet even in the darkest of situations, there is always hope. While the ending of shutdowns and introduction of vaccines have hopefully lifted some of the added stress, there is no doubt that DV within the pandemic remains a problem. For anyone in a dangerous situation or in need of assistance, there are numerous organizations to reach out for help. AshaKiran specializes in offering culturally sensitive services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. You can read more about these services at www.ashakiranonline.org. Other agencies that can help include Crisis Services of North Alabama, the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and One Place Family Justice Center in Montgomery.
No matter your situation, there is always hope. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.