Speak up: Domestic violence sees surge as people forced to stay home amid coronavirus pandemic – sex and relationships

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been a surge in domestic violence incidents reported globally since stay-at-home orders were put into effect. So far, many countries have reported an increase in domestic violence.

A study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Criminal Justice, predicts that the incidents should gradually decrease as people return to normal routines, but would likely increase again if there is a second wave of Covid-19 infections that prompts new stay-at-home orders.

“Shelter-in-place rules, by mandating more time at home, are very likely to increase the volume of domestic or intimate partner violence, which thrives behind closed doors,” said the study’s senior author Jeffrey Brantingham from the University of California.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, both Los Angeles and Indianapolis already have seen significant increases in domestic violence calls to the police, and we know domestic violence is one of the crimes least reported to the police,” Brantingham added.

The pressures of working from home, strictly practising social distancing, and staying home combined with a strained relationship are often explosive which has caused several women to become easy preys to abusive partners.

For the findings, the researchers analysed police calls for service before and during the coronavirus pandemic — from January 2 to April 18 in Los Angeles, and from January 2 to April 21 in Indianapolis.

Is intervention a means of prevention of domestic violence and abuse?

Empowering people to intervene when they witness unacceptable behaviour can help to prevent domestic violence and abuse finds a UK based study. Results of the study found that a total of 81 per cent of participants reported being more likely to intervene when they saw wrongdoing after the training, this increased to 89 per cent four months later.

Specific training for bystanders makes them “significantly” more confident to take action when they see or hear wrongdoing related to domestic abuse in their community, according to the research.

This is the first academic study to examine a bystander programme as a way to tackle domestic violence and abuse in UK communities. The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, comes at a critical moment: during the current coronavirus lockdown, there has been a sharp rise in calls to domestic abuse helplines.

Similar training has been used in universities in the UK and experts who developed the new programme hope bystander training will now play a key role in domestic violence prevention work across the country.

The training, entitled Active Bystander Communities, was led by Dr Rachel Fenton at the University of Exeter and Alexa Gainsbury at Public Health England and is a collaboration between University of Exeter Law School, Public Health England, Devon County Council, Bristol County Council, Splitz and the Hollie Gazzard Trust. It was piloted with 70 people in Exeter, Torquay and Gloucester.

Active Bystander Communities was designed to give people the knowledge and skills they need to be ‘active bystanders’ and intervene positively in potentially harmful situations. It was delivered in three two hour sessions by experienced facilitators. Participants learned how to notice harmful behaviour alongside developing the skills to be able to intervene safely and effectively.

Dr Fenton said: “Bystander intervention is about empowering all members of the community to speak up and challenge gender inequality and the drivers of domestic abuse in a safe and situation-appropriate way. It’s about helping people to find their own way to make an impact and make a difference. We hope others will now use our programme.”

“People in the community are ideally placed respond to problematic behaviours and support individuals who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse because they have the relationships, insights and opportunities to make a real difference. During the coronavirus pandemic, people can still be a bystander by keeping in touch with friends and neighbours, and signposting to services and reporting particularly if they think others are at risk of domestic violence and abuse,” he added.

Reach out:

Domestic violence cases most often go unnoticed as women have avoided speaking openly about these monstrosities inside their homes which make their safe space more dangerous than the outdoors. Love doesn’t need to mean pain, especially of the physical kind and just because it’s uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s not spoken about. Often times, issues like these affect the well-being of children which can have long-lasting effects on their psyche and who they end up becoming as adults, in turn affecting their relationships with their peers, colleagues, friends and beyond. If you are a victim of abuse of any kind, even something seemingly inconsequential such as emotional abuse, speak up so it helps you and someone else who hasn’t been able to. If you know of someone who might be going through something, stand by them and let them know they have support. Suffering in pain never yields a reward.

— with inputs from IANS and ANI

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