Rise in domestic violence amid COVID-19 pandemic


Diary from Washington DC

WASHINGTON, DC: Humanity is going through one of the worst times of its history. Past previous generations have suffered equal or greater epidemics. What made this experience unique was the speed of spread of the disease through millions moving around the earth to historically low movement restrictions. Availability of almost universal social media access also fanned the rumor mill that enveloped the globe like no other time in this human journey.
This health crisis has shaken the humanity to the core with no remedy or vaccine in sight. Scientists around the globe are working diligently to find a cure to this COVID-19, while tens of thousands are dying every passing day. Different states in the US have taken steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. That includes stay-at-home, school closing, avoiding gatherings, limited access to public places, and social distancing. These steps appear to be having a positive effect on control of the spread of the disease.

For some, staying at home for long hours has become an exercise in constant fear from an abusive relationship at home. Women are the largest portion of recipient of at home abuse. Children aren’t spared from it either, in form of direct abuse from violence or from mental torture of watching one of the parents being abused by the other. There are reports now, that some men have also been suffering mental or physical abuse, at the hands of their spouses, while having to stay home per regulations.
The Financial Daily (TFD) contacted Ambreen Ahmad, executive director of FAITH, a Muslim Social Services organization located in Herndon Virginia, a humanitarian charity, that also deals with domestic violence victims and survivors.” During Coronavirus, the domestic violence has sharply increased,” she told TFD. Ahmad, who works with the local Muslim community has received only two calls of extreme abuse, “the number of help requests from the victims of domestic abuse has reduced and the domestic violence increased,” she said.
Loss of jobs and other financial difficulties amid-Coronavirus has created a high-stress environment. “Since the abuser and survivors both are at home, domestic violence has increased as compared to the non-coronavirus era,” she added.
In the US, as the Coronavirus cases increase, the rise in domestic violence percentage has been recorded by the law enforcement agencies, as reported in the media. The increased numbers in domestic violence is a concern for the law enforcement agencies as well as for the political leadership.
Twenty-four US Senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services expressing their concern for the safety of the families facing an increased risk of domestic violence during Coronavirus. The Senators also asked the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Office on Violence against Women (OVW) “to ensure that the organizations that help victims and survivors of domestic violence have the flexibility, resources, and information needed to continue to provide these critical services during the pandemic.”
One of the few modes of relaxation left for those locked up at home is to have phone conversations with family and catch up with friends. In a similar instance, last week one of my friends upon hearing from me of this serious rise in domestic violence in this COVID era, quickly dismissed it by saying, “they should not live with an abusive partner.” I was so dumbfounded by this reaction that I had nothing to say to her.
Clearly, those who have never experienced any domestic abuse or violence could not understand the many reasons behind an abused partner continuing to stay with the abuser. Spousal abuse is not limited to a particular socio-economic group or limited by the education or background of the abuser/abuse. It can be found in all groups of society.
The main reason according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, is that the abused fears the consequences of leaving home on them and their children. Then there are those who feel the sense of shame telling friends or family or calling the police of what happened to them. To them it may give the impression that it was somehow their fault. Others, feel pressure of their culture, traditions or religion to stay with the abusive partner, being constantly told that it will get better.