Since 2020, domestic violence has spiked. In addition to physical violence, downloads of spyware used for cyberstalking increased. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men are victims of cyberstalking. For marginalized groups rates of abuse increased by 50% or more during the pandemic. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and disabilities all contribute to a higher risk for abuse. Concerns about financial security and health during the pandemic increased stressors, leading to higher rates of abuse. Additionally, lockdown restricted movement, deserted public spaces, and isolated people at home, providing increased opportunities for abuse. Although the pandemic has exacerbated this problem, the majority of incidents go unreported.
Many victims fear losing their partner’s support, whether it be financial, fear of losing custody of their children, or loss of immigration status. The psychological effects of abuse also make it harder to leave. Domestic violence can be hard to spot at the beginning, but signs like threatening violence, intentionally damaging property, embarrassing, shaming, or blaming a person for all problems are early indications of abuse. In most cases, a friend or family member is aware of domestic violence; 19% of people know a friend or family member that has been the victim of domestic violence. Writing down and documenting every incident you witness, including date, time, location, injuries, and circumstances is essential. Helping raise awareness in your community and making donations to local shelters can also help those struggling with domestic violence. Know your resources, and be available to help when it comes to domestic violence.