COVID-19 causes spike in domestic violence rates around the world
Wednesday 1 April 2020
As the impacts of COVID-19 imposed restrictions add a new level of financial, health and domestic pressures on families, reports from around the world are warning of an upsurge in incidents of domestic violence.
In China, reports of domestic abuse have said to have tripled during periods of isolation and ABC news has recently reported that Sydney’s Wayside Chapel has seen a ‘significant increase’ in women seeking support for domestic violence issues in the past fortnight.
Everyone has the right to be safe in their own home and there are a range of services available to people if they feel they are no longer safe.
Frontline workers are preparing for the potential of escalating rates of domestic violence and in New South Wales, the Department of Communities and Justice has told service providers it will cover the costs of temporary accommodation for clients who need to self-isolate.
As Karen Bentley, National Chair of Wesnet, the national peak body for domestic and family violence services, put it, “Women will be even more socially isolated. The thing that happens behind closed doors that we’ve tried to open lately, tried to raise awareness about, Covid-19 will slam the door shut with a vengeance.”
We must be supportive of one another as much as possible moving forward. Experts are warning friends and family to be on alert for signs of coercive controlling behaviour during the pandemic. In other countries some abusers have used the health emergency to further restrict their partner’s movements.
Some suggestions for women and families include:
- Trying to stay connected to the outside world as much as possible even if it is through Facebook or other social media platforms
- Make a safety plan identifying safer areas of the house that you can move to if tensions rise
- Identify at what point you think you would need to call the police
- Set up a code word text message to a friend that would signal you need help
If you need to seek help?
There are a range of family and domestic support services available to the public. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, big or small, contact one of these numbers:
- 1800 Respect National Helpline: 1800 737 732
- Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline: 1800 019 123
- Wirringa Baiya – Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre Support for women and children who are experiencing domestic or family violence or sexual assault
1800 686 587 / www.wirringabaiya.org.au
- Indigenous Women’s Legal Services NSW – The Indigenous Women’s Legal Contact Line provides free confidential legal information, advice and referrals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in NSW with a focus on domestic violence, sexual assault, parenting issues, family law, discrimination and victim's compensation.
1800 639 784 / www.wlsnsw.org.au