The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Domestic Violence in the United States

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conducted a survey to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dynamics of gender-based violence and the experiences of those serving victims of gender-based violence. Professionals who serve survivors of gender-based violence across the United States were recruited to complete the online survey between September and December 2020.

“Gender-based violence, such as intimate partner violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking, are crimes that thrive on survivor isolation. The isolation resulting from this pandemic, coupled with financial strain and a myriad of mental health issues experienced by many, creates a perfect storm to enhance the occurrence of gender-based violence,” notes Kellie Lynch, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the study.

The survey findings indicated that most respondents believed intimate partner violence, child abuse, and sexual assault have increased during the pandemic. But professionals who deal with these issues also noted that there have been numerous list of barriers to serving survivors, such as maintaining staff and victim health/safety, statewide mandates restricting access to services, limited resources, shelter capacity, and reduced criminal justice system operations.

The study also found that survivors face immense barriers to seeking help during the pandemic, such as concerns for their health and safety, being closely monitored at home by an abuser, and a lack of knowledge of how agencies are providing services during these times.

“This study was an initial step in documenting the resiliency of victim service agencies and highlights the creativity, determination, and passion of agency staff to navigate this pandemic,” Dr. Lynch said. “These results can be used to inform strategies and allow coordinated plans for providing services to survivors as this pandemic continues and for future emergencies.”

Dr. Lynch joined the faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2018. She is a graduate of Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, where she majored in psychology and English. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Kentucky. The study was co-authored by TK Logan a professor of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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