A pandemic in a pandemic: Domestic violence calls increase nationwide amid COVID-19

A pandemic in a pandemic: Domestic violence calls increase nationwide amid COVID-19

Domestic violence is a worldwide phenomenon that has only gotten worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple studies worldwide have found a spike in domestic abuses since the start of the pandemic, with significant increases in calls to helplines than the same time frame the year before.

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine and the United Nations group U.N. Women, when the pandemic began in March 2020, incidents of domestic violence increased 300% in Hubei, China; 25% in Argentina, 30% in Cyprus, 33% in Singapore and 50% in Brazil. The U.S. isn’t any better. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, police reports across the country increased significantly, with the following cities experiencing the highest increase: San Antonio, Portland, New York City. According to a study in the journal Radiology radiology scans and superficial wounds consistent with domestic abuse from March 11 to May 3 of 2020 in one Boston hospital exceeded the totals for the same period in 2018 and 2019 combined.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, so did intimate partner violence. With lockdowns in place, many survivors were stuck at home with their abusers, and as establishments began to close, this correlated to higher stress increasing incidents of violence. 

For people of color, inequalities in place heightened amid the pandemic; thus, domestic violence also increased disproportionately for colored communities. “While one in three white women report having experienced domestic violence [during the pandemic], the rates of abuse increased dramatically to about 50% and higher for those marginalized by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, and cognitive physical ability,” Erika Sussman, executive director of the Center for Survivor Advocacy and Justice (CSAJ), a support and research organization, said.

But what exactly is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an all-inclusive term designed to explain various human rights violations— often directed towards women and girls. Domestic violence is not just physical; it’s inclusive of other forms of violence, including emotional, mental, financial, sexual, and immigration-based. When an intimate partner or person uses the power of control over another, domestic violence incidents occur. 

Several variables affect and prevent individuals from disclosing acts of domestic and sexual violence to authorities, including barriers to seeking help as immigrants, loyalties to family and culture, fear and distrust of legal authorities, and fluency in English and communication style, and most often legal residency status.

The most common way a survivor seeks out help is by calling a hotline. On average, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 20,000 calls a day. These hotlines are available 24 hours a day and often even provide language services. As a culturally specific advocate, I have worked on a few hotlines with limited-English-proficiency individuals speaking in Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi. Other language advocates are also available and, if not, can be connected via Language Line.

While it can be scary reaching out to a hotline, talking to a trained advocate can help. Remember, the idea of an advocate is not to tell you what to do but to give you options and resources. Telling someone what to do takes power from the abuser and gives it to the advocate instead of the survivor. 

While all calls are anonymous and confidential, it is recommended to call when your abuser is not home or around to avoid escalating the situation. 

Here’s a list of reliable national hotlines anyone can call. These hotlines will either work with you or connect you to a local one in your state.

National Hotlines

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

800-799-7233 (SAFE)


National Sexual Assault Hotline

800-656-4673 (HOPE)

National Dating Abuse Helpline


Pathways to Safety International

833-723-3833 (833-SAFE-833) (international and toll-free)

National Center for Victims of Crime

855-484-2846 (4-VICTIM)

The following is a list of culturally specific hotlines. 

Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN)

email: hotline@deafdawn.org
202-559-5366 (video relay services)

National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities

a project of Casa de Esperanza
800-799-7233 (national)
651-646-5553 (Minnesota)

The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project


National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

855-649-7299 (toll-free)

Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence


Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)

212- 473-6485



Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community


The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community


National LGBTQ Task Force


The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse


Outside of calling a hotline, many survivors often need legal resources. While advocates can often connect you to an agency that provides legal services, here are some individuals you can contact directly.

Legal support

American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence



Battered Women’s Justice Project


Legal Momentum




National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

800-903-0111 x 3

Legal Network for Gender Equity


More than 10 million men and women experience domestic violence each year, estimates the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). You are not alone and what you are going through is not your fault. Domestic violence does not discriminate between sex, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or any other identity— it can happen to anyone. While some identities are more likely to face domestic violence issues, no one identity exempts you from facing it. While it may be difficult to leave a situation, becoming familiar with community and online resources can help you take that first step to get support. 

*Here’s a list of agencies you can contact organized by state. If you have any more resources you would like to share, please add them in the comments below or message me, and I will include them! For culturally specific 

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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