For many women and children, instead of being in a place of refuge this quarantine, home has become more of a space full of fear and violence. This is how it is lived in hundreds of countries where the emergency phone lines won’t stop ringing, receiving accusations of abuse and mistreatment due to the mandatory isolation alongside their offender.
This is the other face of quarantine, where domestic violence has increased in quite worrying numbers. With more than 96% of Americans homebound, some cities are experiencing significant increment in domestic violence.The hotlines in this country are reporting how Covid-19 is being used to increase control and abuse, or how it is affecting the possibility of accessing support services, shelter, counseling, among others. “A violence victim is not likely to call for help because their abuser is at home or even in the same room with her / him,” reported Kimberlina Kavern from Safe Horizon-New York.
NBC News contacted 22 police agencies to request complaint data: 18 departments said they had seen an increase in March. Houston police received about 300 more domestic violence calls in March than in February, a rise of approximately 20%.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina police received an additional 517 calls about domestic violence in March compared to the same month last year, a jump of 18%, while Phoenix police received nearly 200 more calls, a gain of almost 6%.
“Financial stress is a bomb for families with a history of domestic violence,” said Steve Mueller, sheriff of Cherokee County in South Carolina. According to studies, since the start of this pandemic the economy has been quite affected, which manages to generate high levels of stress and anxiety that mainly affect families where domestic violence is the daily bread.
A clear case was in an eastern city of Pennsylvania where a man shot his girlfriend in the back and then committed suicide. Fortunately she survived. Just like this, there are many daily cases in each country.
Intra-family abuse is not limited to low-income people or people of a certain race or ethnic group, according to statistics, physical violence affects 41.2% black women, 30.5% of white race, 29.7% Hispanic and 15.3% are Asian.
The following is a rough figure of the magnification in domestic violence in various countries of the world.
France: The cases of violence increased by 30%
Mexico: There was a registered rise of 30%
Colombia: Increment of 79%
China: When this virus was barely an outbreak the first alarms went off. According to statistics, 90% of the causes of violence are related to the epidemic.
Russia: In addition to an increase in complaints of traditional forms of domestic violence, there have also been reported cases specifically of elderly who are physically assaulted by their children.
In these cases of intra-family violence, we cannot ignore the following factors.
–Alcohol The stress generated by the mandatory isolation is one of the most common causes of abuse, but if we add it to alcohol problems at home, it is the perfect concoction for the abuser to resort again and again to acts of abuse in their home. Mexico is a country that has been hit hard by the augment in alcohol consumption during the quarantine, being 63% above last year’s figures. In the United States, according to Nielsen, there has been an increase of 55% compared to March of last year.
–Child abuse This is a reality we cannot ignore. Just as violence against women occurs, cases of child abuse do not stop. Studies and analysis carried out throughout this quarantine in different countries report an increase of 65% in this type of abuse. Children who are at home are at a very vulnerable spot as they are alone without any external help aside from their family such as their teachers, friends and social workers, which are the people who can report this type of abuse that is generally not reported.
–Elder Abuse The economic stress caused by quarantine has been a factor affecting older adults, especially through economic exploitation.
They have also been affected by the mandatory isolation, being mistreated mainly by their children. The quarantine has increased the number of calls from neighbors to report this type of abuse around them. According to studies carried out in the United States, 5 million elderly people are victims of abuse yearly. Abuse can be psychological, physical and neglect, the Denver Department of Social Services works to eradicate abuse, neglect and exploitation of which they may be victims of.
–Sexual crimes Sexual abuse of minors during confinement increased by 46%, according to a statistical report from the Victims Against Violence Program of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Argentine Republic. In addition, 57% of abusers are male family members and 8 out of 10 victims of child sexual abuse are girls. Every minute, on average, 24 women are victims of some type of domestic violence in the United States, of which more than 19% have been raped and 31.5% have been beaten by their partner, according to data from the CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Sexual violence injures 32.3% of multiracial women, 27.5% of Native Americans, 21.2% of non-Hispanic black women, 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women, and 13.6% of Hispanic women. The U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline has reported receiving nearly 2,000 calls a day.
For all people who are experiencing these situations, it is important to have knowledge that there is help available. There are shelters for families and many Non-Profit organizations providing service now more than ever, as the seriousness of the situation the world is currently facing is well known.