How the Pandemic Impacted the Frequency and Severity of Domestic Violence

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that in the early months of the pandemic, the overall prevalence of domestic violence didn’t increase, but survivors of intimate partner violence experienced new, more frequent, or more severe violence in that period.

According to a survey of more than 1,100 women, roughly 1 in 7 women experienced intimate partner violence — similar to pre-pandemic levels — but 1 in 10 experienced new, more frequent, or more severe violence during that time period.

Populations more likely to experience new, worse, or more frequent intimate partner violence were those who were economically vulnerable or housing unstable; trans and nonbinary people; and those living with six or more in a household. Also, essential workers were twice as likely to experience new or worse violence, while one-third of pregnant women and one-fourth of households with toddlers experienced new or worse violence. Also, people who tested for COVID were more likely to experience new or worse violence.

“It’s important to look at these results and remember that even if the prevalence of women experiencing domestic violence did not increase, there are still 1 in 10 women who are seeing more severe or increased domestic abuse,” said Sarah Peitzmeier, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “We have to focus on, ‘How do we help these people?’”

Dr. Peitzmeier is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

The full study, “Increases in Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19: Prevalence and Correlates,” was published on the website of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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