The COVID-19 pandemic saw a significant increase in intimate partner violence throughout the United States. New York City experienced a 10% increase in domestic violence reports while San Antonio, CA saw a 18% rise in family violence calls. Minority groups who were the most affected by higher unemployment and likelihood of infection caused by the pandemic were the ones who had rates of abuse rise by 50% or more.
This uptick in abuse can be attributed to a variety of causes, including increased stressors, more opportunities for abuse, and fewer safeguards. Less than half of intimate partner violence victims accept professional care for their injuries while about half of domestic violence incidents don’t even get reported. Why is domestic violence sometimes not getting reported?
Victims usually fear the possibility of not being believed by others or lose the confidence to talk to someone about the abuse. Some might be really dependent on their partner’s support to risk leaving. Those who have pets might have abusers who are willing to harm the victims’ pets as a means of control. This causes about 50% of victims to stay in abusive situations rather than leaving their pets with the abuser while 25% of victims decide to return to abusers because they are worried about their pets.
There are ways you can help reduce the number of domestic violence cases. One is to understand and recognize the warning signs so domestic violence can be stopped before it gets serious. Seeing as 19% of people know a friend or family member who has suffered domestic violence and 17% of people know someone has inflicted abuse on another, writing down every abusive incident you witness or even calling the police if you sense someone might be in immediate danger can help someone you care about escape domestic abuse. Being available to help and supporting local shelters and organizations are active ways you can lend a hand to victims who need it most.