Around the globe, governments have implored residents to stay home to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus disease. But for domestic violence victims—the vast majority of whom are women and children—home is a dangerous place. Data from many regions around the world suggests significant increases in domestic violence cases, particularly among marginalized populations.
The pandemic has resulted in families spending more time together at home. Not surprisingly, being in such close proximity for extended periods of time has resulted in higher stress levels which often make it more likely to result in intimidation or physically hurting one another.
Even with stay-at-home orders lifting and some areas reopening, there is still an increase in stressors as a result of the pandemic. Schools remain closed, and camps and activities are canceled, so kids are at home. Families may feel crowded, frustrated that they can’t escape one another.
At the same time, they’re isolated from extended family and friends and can no longer participate in many enjoyable and relaxing activities. Parents and children alike are suffering a prolonged kind of PTSD with no end in sight. Financial stress can factor in, too, especially if someone in the home has been furloughed or laid off.
A recent study found that, as the tightest restrictions on nonessential activities began to lift in Massachusetts, physicians at a large hospital in Boston saw a near-doubling of the proportion of domestic abuse cases that resulted in physical injury in comparison with previous years. The injuries were also dramatically more severe, prompting concerns that victims had delayed seeking help even as the violence against them escalated.
The true extent of these increases may be masked by the fact that fewer victims appeared to be coming forward for fear of being infected in a clinic, shelter or hospital emergency department. The newest research finds evidence that physical abuse has both increased and escalated — even as the numbers of victims coming forward has decreased.
The pressure on households is also resulting in more alcohol consumption than usual due to these stressors, which contributes to a higher risk of acting out and causing physical harm to family members. People who drink alcohol may be less capable of dealing with relationship conflicts without resorting to violence.
At the height of the pandemic, it was actually easier to buy alcohol than toilet paper or eggs. U.S. governors attempting to throw an economic lifeline to one group of small businesses have termed alcohol sales an essential business and loosened restrictions to permit home delivery and carryout cocktails.
The result is that people in general are buying more alcohol, and in larger quantities. Those who study the link between alcohol policy and public health, warn us that this is likely to result in a spike in alcohol abuse for years to come.
Our traditional police and institutional responses of intervention are overrun by sheer volume in spite of the fact that many occurrences go unreported because victims are afraid to leave their homes while the pandemic still threatens.
What is the answer to this increasing epidemic of negative and hurtful reactions to these life pressures? What can we do when fear of infection, loneliness and separation, potential financial disaster, and a sense of helplessness are causing such a steep escalation of the already crippling problems of domestic violence and addiction to drugs and alcohol?
The answer is the same as it has always been—to deal with the root of our brokenness. Trying to manage the symptoms is like a putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging wound. But there are real answers in the word of God that go to the heart of the problem, bringing healing from the inside out and breaking the cycle that has us trapped in a bottomless pit of pain and violence. Instead of coping by numbing the pain or taking out frustrations on others, God’s truth shows you the way to climb out of the pit step by step.
Crawford will release her new-devotional, Break Free: A 45-Day Encounter with God that Changes Everything, along with a revised edition of her best seller, Don’t Quit in the Pit: Power to Turn Any Situation Around, September 15th. Break Free is relevant and encouraging word that will help individuals face the pressing issues of today. (Published by Whitaker House) Crawford’s television program, Hope for Today with Danette Crawford, is broadcast weekly into over 250-million homes airing on ABC, CBS, Dove Broadcasting and many other networks.
Break Free can be found in bookstores everywhere, on Amazon, or from my website DanetteCrawford.com. Let the Word of God show you the way out of the pit.