In the United States, domestic violence incidents have increased by 8.1 percent after COVID-19 stay-at-home lockdown orders, according to a new study.
As stay-at-home orders began isolating people to their homes, the increase in cases of domestic violence has risen since last spring, according to findings published last week by the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ).
The analysis was based on 12 U.S. studies, which included data from crime reports, emergency hotlines as well as hospital records from multiple cities.
The analysis also included studies from six other countries.
Data showed a 7.9 percent increase in domestic violence incidents after lockdown measures were implemented.
In addition, the authors also pointed to separate report from over the summer — which documented a 9.7 percent increase in domestic violence calls during March and April.
“Our analysis confirms the initial fears we had at the outset of the pandemic,” lead author Alex R. Piquero, chair of the University of Miami Department of Sociology, said in a press release.
“While further research is needed to help us better understand the web of factors underlying this rise in domestic violence, our findings demonstrate that the pandemic’s isolating impacts increased risk for potential victims,” Piquero added.
In the report, the authors pointed to “increased male unemployment, stress associated with childcare and homeschooling, and increased financial insecurity” along with other factors that could have impacted the rise in domestic violence.
While speaking with CNN, Piquero said that he thought “the problem is actually worse,” adding, “in my mind, I think that 8% is a floor and not a ceiling.”
“The pandemic has thrown many of the most vulnerable people in our society into especially challenging circumstances, so these findings should not surprise us,” NCCCJ director Thomas Abt, added in a press release about the study.
“Policymakers and researchers should work to further understand the impacts of the pandemic and provide additional resources for domestic abuse prevention and victim services, particularly to those who are most isolated and at risk,” Abt concluded.
Dr. Amanda Stylianou, the quality improvement director at Rutgers University’s Behavioral Health Care center, previously told PEOPLE how abusers can use the fear of COVID-19 as a means of controlling their victims.
“In a time where it’s very possible that you’re losing your job, and where you have financial uncertainty looking forward, we’ve heard from many survivors that they’re returning to the abusers because they feel like they’re facing this battle between kind of physical safety and financial safety,” Stylianou said.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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