Australia sees surge in domestic violence during pandemic

Covid actually gave perpetrators another weapon to further enhance the control over their victims.  The study says 62 per cent of domestic and family violence (DFV) sector workers reported an increase in demand during the pandemic

  • An increase in demand for domestic and family violence (DFV) sector workers in Australia indicates the rampant rise in domestic abuse
  • 67 per cent of workers reported abuse victims seeking help for the first time during the pandemic.
  • 15,000 women were interviewed of whom 11.6% have been victims of domestic abuse

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Australia sees surge in domestic violence during pandemic

Canberra: Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) published an on Friday survey that detailed how the Covid-19 pandemic has made domestic and family violence in Australia more common and severe.

Published in the Australian Journal of Social Issues, the study said 62 per cent of domestic and family violence (DFV) sector workers reported an increase in demand during the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.

In addition, 67 per cent of workers reported abuse victims seeking help for the first time during the pandemic.

The lead author of the study, professor of education and social justice at QUT Kerry Carrington said the findings were not completely surprising.

"We did expect that the lockdown conditions would create a perfect storm for anyone who is in a coercive controlling relationship, there was just no space," Carrington told Xinhua on Friday.

A government study from the Australian Institute of Criminology that interviewed 15,000 women across Australia in May of 2020 found that 11.6 per cent of respondents had been the victim of some kind of domestic abuse.

Two-thirds of the respondents reported that the abuse had either started or escalated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Carrington told Xinhua that there is a multitude of factors behind the coinciding of this uptick with the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.

"So the pandemic itself created the perfect storm for insecurity, financial loss, loss of jobs and of course intense conflict within families, kids home, home schooling, inability to escape."

"So, the whole thing was that they were locked down with the perpetrator."

Carrington said the most shocking part of their findings was the ways that perpetrators of domestic violence were weaponizing the pandemic and other health restrictions.

"Covid actually gave perpetrators another weapon. It gave them a weapon to actually further enhance the control of their victims."

An anonymous respondent who worked as a domestic family violence counselor in Tasmania said victims` support networks were often severely reduced during times of lockdown.

"In situations where victims live with perpetrators, perpetrators have monitored victims more closely, including victim`s communication with others," the respondent said.

The study reported that the vast majority, 86 percent of workers in the DFV sector reported an increase in complexity of abuse victim`s needs during the pandemic.

Carrington said these responses served as a stark reminder that DFV services need greater support during times of crisis, and the most important thing going forward is for more empathy for women in these situations and greater funding for organizations in the DFV sector.

 

 

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