Why is domestic abuse risk increased by Covid-19?

How serious is the risk?

Abuse is about controlling your partner or other family members. It is not about irritation,  stress or bad temper and it won’t be caused either by the stress and anxiety around Covid-19 or by the irritations of spending all day every day under the same roof with your partner or family members.

However, while abuse is not caused by, or commenced under, lock down, the physical and emotional risks to people experiencing abuse are significantly increased. A good way to understand this was given by Scottish Women’s Aid CEO, Dr Marsha Scott:

“Abuse isn’t caused by being home together. It is about the opportunities. The difference is that they can control more when they are home….”

“The pandemic may increase the opportunities for people who are already abusing to control and coerce women and children in their homes to a greater degree – micro-managing who they talk to, when they eat, when they sleep, when they go out, and this is all made harder and more frightening in the context of the pandemic….” 

“This was a 24/7 event before the pandemic and women and children are at increased risk at the moment because they have fewer opportunities to connect with friends and family and go to school and sports and be away from this environment.

The ultimate control over another person is control over their life. And the ultimate challenge to control is deciding to leave. Leaving is essential, but very dangerous. Every week in England and Wales at least 2 people are killed by their partner or ex-partner. Since covid-19, this number has more than doubled. Unless we recognise the risk, lives will be lost. We know there has been a 71% increase in calls reporting domestic abuse on the Isle of Man. It is important that we all respond to this statistic and watch out for our neighbours, friends, family or ourselves who may be experiencing abuse. We’re not talking about arguments, we are talking about psychological and physical harm, even death. Take the risk seriously. Report Concerns.

[1] Coronavirus: Lockdown ‘increasing’ domestic abuse risks, BBC, 14 April 2020