No excuse for abuse: Domestic and violence in Australia has increased greatly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

 

LOCKDOWN isn’t a reason to get aggressive or abusive.

In a recent study by Queensland University of Technology Centre for Justice, a nationwide survey revealed that domestic and violence (DFV) in Australia has increased greatly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily due to stay-at-home and lockdown orders.

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Researchers surveyed 362 DFV agencies and individuals from across the country about their experiences.

Two thirds of DFV workers reported an increase in new clients seeking assistance for a domestic or family violence matter since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia, with 63 percent of clients having school aged children.

More than 40 percent of these agencies noted a significant growth in controlling and coercive behaviour through this period.

Professor Kerry Carrington from Queensland University of Technology discussed this increase.

“We discovered that there was not only an increase in the severity of domestic violence as well as its prevalence, but we also discovered, much to our surprise and shock, that perpetrators have been using COVID lockdowns to actually extend their coercive control over their partners.

“So, clearly the context of COVID; the financial, the psychological, the mental pressures of COVID, being locked down in the home with children has really exacerbated the prevalence of domestic violence.”

The Port Stephens-Hunter Police District emphasised that fleeing a violent or abusive relationship is a reasonable excuse to leave home during COVID-19.

“You do not have to stay in an unsafe home.

“You are always allowed to leave your home to access domestic and family violence support services or to stay safe from harm,” they confirmed.

Almost ten percent of service providers provided reports that perpetrators were finding new ways of emotionally and psychologically abusing victims during COVID-19, including ways of ‘weaponising’ the pandemic and intensely monitoring victims’ day-to-day movements.

For anyone struggling with sexual assault or domestic or family violence, contact the NSW Domestic Violence Line at 1800 656 463, or 1800RESPECT for national counselling services.

 

By Tara CAMPBELL

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