By: Ishita Khambete
We are currently in the middle of a pandemic. This pandemic has devastated lives, families, and peoples’ safety and security. We can see it because people have lost their jobs, family members, and an overall sense of normalcy. To add more to the mix, studies have shown that because of the pandemic, domestic violence has increased significantly.
What is domestic violence? According to the US Dept. of Justice, domestic violence is defined as being a “felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim”. Domestic violence typically occurs behind walls and under a roof. According to the New York Times, whenever families spend more time together, domestic violence levels surge. The pandemic is no exception. Hotlines have reported that there has been a surge in abuse reports, and this reveals the terrifying nature of the situation.
Many governments have imposed lockdowns to slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19, but this came at the expense of victims of domestic violence. Governments have shown to be very slow to respond to the crisis since they have been putting dealing with the pandemic first and then dealing with the ripple effects.
Not only is there a link between lockdowns and domestic violence, there is a link with lockdowns, alcohol, and domestic violence. According to USC News, due to all the closures there has been a 55% increase in alcohol sales in late March in comparison to March 2019. Excessive alcohol consumption is a key factor in domestic violence cases since alcoholics can lash out at their families and cause them harm. However, alcoholism or general alcohol consumption isn’t the sole cause of domestic violence. Chances are that the perpetrator was already abusive before they started drinking alcohol, and that the alcohol worsened the perpetrator’s actions.
There are also many effects of abuse due to alcohol consumption. According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, women who are abused are 15x more likely to abuse alcohol themselves, and that 68% of youth in Oregon treatment programs have witnessed their mothers being abused or were abused themselves. Abuse due to alcohol consumption has many lasting effects on the victims and even the people they’re close to and the COVID-19 pandemic is only making it worse. Confinement caused by lockdowns causes an increase in alcohol sales, which leads to increased alcohol consumption, which leads to more domestic abuse, and thus has lasting impacts.
COVID-19 has many direct and indirect causes for the increase in domestic violence cases. One of the direct causes is that people are now staying home and have to be with their abusive partners, which leads to more cases. An indirect cause is alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption has increased due to the government imposed lockdowns, and this has led to a surge in domestic violence cases as well.