Woman experiencing domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increase in Domestic Abuse During the Pandemic

We speak of people being “trapped” in an abusive relationship and the terminology is apt since victims of domestic torment feel powerless to escape. During the strict protocol imposed by the pandemic, entrapment has become more and more real, as individuals experiencing domestic violence have been increasingly unable to leave home or seek help. Cooped up with their abusers during the COVID-19 pandemic, victims have lost what little privacy or moments of freedom they previously had. 

A family law attorney with experience in cases of domestic abuse and knowledge of legal and social resources, can be a vital form of assistance for victims of domestic violence. In Phoenix, Arizona, victims who have been suffering in silence can find help at Cohen Family Law where lead attorney Mitchell E. Cohen will provide them with empathy as well as excellent legal counsel. 

What ensnares victims of domestic violence?

While in extreme cases, victims may be physically restrained — locked in or even shackled — the majority of domestic abuse victims are imprisoned by:

  • Having been cut off from family and friends by the abuser
  • Having nowhere safe to go
  • Having no financial resources 
  • Fearing that any move they make will be met with worse violence
  • Fearing that police will not believe them and/or will not protect them from further attacks
  • Feeling ashamed or humiliated that others will find out about their sordid home life

Domestic violence, like so many other social and health problems, tends to be worse for those who live in poverty, since they have fewer alternatives and generally less credibility if they speak up. You should be aware, however, that Mitchell E. Cohen is a dedicated domestic abuse attorney who is working hard, in spite of the pandemic, to protect those who are struggling with the awful challenges of both scourges.

How Sheltering in Place Has Made the Situation Worse

There are many reasons the coronavirus has increased domestic violence throughout the country as well as globally. These include:

  • Increased stress, fear of illness and death
  • Decrease in outlets for that stress through work, athletic pursuits, socializing
  • More confined (and often cramped) living conditions with parents either unemployed or working from home and children unable to attend school
  • Lack of safe access to friends and extended family due to fear of virus spread and difficulty traveling
  • Financial difficulties due to millions of lost jobs, furloughs, and salary cuts
  • Closures of community centers, government offices, places of worship where people normally seek help

Tragically, COVID-19 has resulted in a lockdown environment in which domestic violence flourishes and is also more difficult to detect. With family members not going to work or school, coworkers, colleagues, teachers and friends do not get the chance to see or respond to evidence or complaints of physical or psychological abuse.

Sociological studies have shown that domestic violence accelerates whenever families spend more time together, such as during Christmas or other holidays, or during summer vacations. It stands to reason, then, that the extended period of close family time during the pandemic — without presents or guests or even the pretense of celebration — is going to be tough.

Although the reopening of Arizona may have offered a safety valve in some domestic abuse situations, the re-closings will likely allow many abusers to regain power. Using any window of opportunity to call for superior legal help is essential.

Abuse Doesn’t Always Mean Violence

While all too frequently domestic abuse does escalate into physical violence, psychological abuse can also cause permanent damage in abused partners or children. In many cases, this means that abusers not only force their victims to isolate from loved ones, but also put them under constant surveillance, keep them to rigid schedules, restrict their food consumption, access to clothing, telephones, computers, and bathroom facilities.

Unfortunately, the presence of COVID-19 in our midst provides abusers with a host of further excuses for restricting behavior and another way to terrify their victims. Because most excursions — going to a friend’s house, going shopping, playing in the playground, engaging in sports activities, dining out, going to the gym, going to the movies –have been restricted or disallowed, abusers have had society inadvertently giving them free rein to keep their victims trapped.

Moreover, keeping control of access to soap and water, masks and gloves, has supplied abusers with a new fear to instill in their victims: fear of being exposed to a potentially fatal virus. If you or someone you know is being abused in his or her own home, immediate action is necessary. It is well-known that domestic abuse rarely, if ever, improves without intervention, and usually gets worse. Reach out while there is still time.