The following piece was written as part of The Pandemic: Science and Society course offered from Aug. 17 – Sep. 4.
Domestic and interpersonal violence has existed since the beginning of time. It has not been recognized to be such a major concern until recently.But what is intimate partner violence? In the lecture led by two members of Safe Connections, an organization in St. Louis dedicated to helping victims of intimate partner violence, we learned so much about the troubling truths of domestic violence in our society today.
Domestic violence is all about power and control, and there are several different ways that domestic violence and intimate partner violence can manifest itself, ranging from gaslighting, to financial burdening, to rape. Just to name a few facts, 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men, will experience some type of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. In the US, there are up to 3 million cases of domestic violence per year, with many more going unreported. With the outbreak of COVID-19, however, we can only imagine how much worse things have gotten.
There are several ways in which COVID-19 and the lockdowns associated with the pandemic affected domestic violence cases. Data suggests that rates of domestic abuse have increased significantly, especially for marginalized groups. This has happened for several reasons. One reason is that with the outbreak of COVID-19, people are not going outside as much, or at all. Children are not going to school, and people aren’t going to work. This is a breeding ground for abusers to not only spend more time at home abusing their victims, but also for victims to not have the opportunity to physically escape their situation. Moreover with the virus, domestic violence shelters, in person therapists, and other resources to help victims are all but extinct.
What does this mean? There is a domestic violence pandemic happening right alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.
What can we do? On the bright side, there are several things that we can do. Volunteering with Safe Connections is one of the several ways that we as individuals can help out those that are less fortunate than us. Moreover, checking in on your friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc. about their home lives, and making sure that everything is okay, is something else that everyone should be doing. Most importantly, wear your mask, socially distance, and do everything in your power to end this pandemic as quickly as possible. If not for your own sake, then for the sake of everyone less fortunate than you.
Edited by: Keshav Kailash