Study Shows Surge in Domestic Abuse Cases Amid COVID-19 Lockdowns

Quarantine measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 causes significant rise in intimate partner violence.

Online PR News – 10-September-2020 – Massachusetts – Radiology scans reveal a spike in domestic violence cases triggered by pandemic lockdown measures.

A study on patients who sought emergency care at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston shows significant year-on-year rise in intimate partner violence cases during the first few weeks of COVID-19 lockdown impositions.

The study, which was published in the journal “Radiology”, identified 26 patients – nearly all women – who sustained injuries consistent with either superficial wounds or serious abuse.

X-Ray scans between March 11 and May 3 show deep injuries resulting from burns, strangulation, stabbing, and the use of knives or guns.

It was during this period when Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker imposed lockdown rules in response to the pandemic. In comparison, the hospital only had 15 cases of physical abuse in 2017, and 27 cases for the same weeks in 2018 and 2019 combined.

Mardi Chadwick Balcom, the study’s co-author, says being confined to a home for extended periods increases the likelihood of violence between couples.

Co-author Dr. Bharti Khurana adds that the study was only focused on patients who sought emergency treatment at the said hospital, probably exposing only “the tip of the iceberg”.

In April, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also expressed concerns about how quarantine measures can trap women with their abusive partners. He adds that social and economic pressures have grown during the lockdown periods, causing a significant rise in domestic violence.

Other authorities echo that concern. Barbara Paradiso, Director of University of Colorado’s Center on Domestic Violence thinks that the opportunity for violence naturally arises when an abused victim is forced to stay indoors without opportunities to work, visit family and friends, or reach out for help.

She adds that pandemic-induced stress is likely to contribute to the rise in cases. There’s just too much uncertainty with every aspect of our lives, including our jobs and finances. This causes abusers to lose control over their lives and they try to maintain power over their partners instead by resorting to violence.

Regardless of the reason, there’s no excuse for domestic abuse. Not only does staying with abusive partners endanger victims physically, but it can fundamentally change their lives and of those around them forever. It’s not uncommon for victims to blame themselves and question their own self-worth, which can ultimately break them in a number of ways.

Victims of domestic abuse need all the support they can get to separate themselves and their children from the perpetrators. They need to know they are not alone and that there’s a better, happier life waiting for them away from their abusers. Organizations like eDivorce are stepping up to ensure that married victims can obtain all the resources they need to divorce their abusive partners and move on from the trauma.

While the study was conducted in just one facility, similar trends seem to support the theory in other states. Investigators at Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri say there’s been a 10% increase in domestic disturbance calls from February to present.