The Effects of COVID-19 on Domestic Violence
“During the epidemic, we were unable to go outside, and our conflicts just grew bigger and bigger and more and more frequent.”
This is only the voice of Lele, a victim of domestic violence in China. During the quarantine, her partner physically abused her, leaving her severely injured.
Living in constant fear. Unable to exercise their voice. Unable to leave their home. This is what many are facing during this already difficult quarantine. Over the last few months, the number of calls to hotlines has surged, and many individuals are struggling with domestic violence, unable to leave the situation or get medical help, with their lives put at peril. In fact, according to a Statistics Canada survey, 1/10 women are “very or extremely” worried about the possibility of domestic violence due to the impacts of the quarantine. In this article, we hope to give victims the resources and knowledge so that they can better protect themselves, their families, and reach the help they need to attain the life they deserve.
What is considered domestic violence?
Let’s address the most common types of abuse and domestic violence: physical, sexual, verbal, financial, and emotional.
Physical abuse: A deliberate act causing injury or trauma to another person by way of bodily contact. This includes intentional hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, scratching, biting, suffocating, burning, throwing, etc.
Sexual abuse: Forcing someone to have sex without their consent. This can occur if one does not obey their partner’s orders, when the offender may use verbal or physical threats to intimidate and lure the victim into doing their requests.
Verbal abuse: The use of words or phrases to degrade, intimidate, or control the victim. This includes name-calling, condescension, criticism, manipulations, withholding, gaslighting, accusations, threats, etc.
Financial abuse: The offender’s use of the victim’s money without permission or in a dishonest manner. For instance, this can occur when a partner keeps borrowing money, but never repays it.
Emotional abuse: The destruction of the victim’s sense of self-worth, confidence, and independence. This type of abuse is often used along with other types, and can take a toll on your psychological health and can leave invisible scars, making it often overlooked by many victims; however, the destructive ability of emotional abuse can be even greater than physical, sexual, verbal, or financial abuse.
If you feel that you or anyone you know are experiencing any type of abuse — not limited to the types listed above — especially during these difficult times, please seek help through the following resources:
An informative FAQ page from the World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/violence-against-women-during-covid-19?gclid=CjwKCAjw57b3BRBlEiwA1ImytmC1lA-aM4K0wIJCLtgrkki3XsZMbPPwZaJ26e_mAvAwfTXnqGV5rxoC7WIQAvD_BwE
An extensive list of hotlines and services available for victims across Canada: https://endingviolencecanada.org/getting-help-2/
Another list for those in the United States: https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2020/05/domestic-violence-resources-in-the-united-states/
Or, if you do not feel safe reaching out to a hotline or talking to a friend, this is a safe way to get your message across:
Discrete hand signal for help (CanadianWomen.org)
Article Contributors: Valerie Shirobokov, Michelle Xiao
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Featured image courtesy of Silvia Turra via Getty Images