Intimate partner violence (IPV) can be defined as physical, psychological, sexual, and economic violence that is experienced by women at home and executed by their partners or ex-partners. This is a strong form of violence that destroys women’s feelings of trust, love, and self-esteem, with negative consequences on physical and psychological health. Many reports from several countries have recognized a remarkable increase in the cases of IPV during the COVID-19 times. Such an increase may be related to the restrictive measures of movement enacted to contain the pandemic, including women’s forced cohabitation with the abusive partner, as well as the increase in the partners’ pre-existing psychological disorders during the lockdown. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, there is a dire need for developing and implementing alternative or solution treatment options for IPV victims like online and phone counseling and telemedicine, as well as training programs for health care professionals, especially for those who are employed in emergency departments, to facilitate early detection of IPV.
Keywords: IPV, domestic violence, COVID-19,
Everyone knows that the pandemic has come to define 2020.
Understandably, COVID-19 has dominated the world’s agenda and mandatory lockdowns were introduced to many countries which were in turn to help control the spread of the virus.
People weren’t able to go to their normal places of business, they weren’t able to visit family or friends and socialize publicly. But for some people, the freedom to get out of the house was not just a matter of convenience but also physical safety and even in the situation of life and death. The majority of the vulnerable people are women suffering beyond the shadows of COVID-19. The alarming increase in IPV cases observed during the COVID-19 outbreak is especially concerning when considering that IPV victims are at risk of fatal events which includes homicides and suicides, psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol or substance abuse, and physical diseases such as chronic pelvic pain, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, and physical injuries. Isolation, inability to work, lack of engagement in regular activities, loss of money and limited ability to care for themselves and their children are all possible consequences of IPV. Furthermore, IPV exposure in youngsters is linked to an increased risk of psychological, emotional, social, and behavioural issues.
Possible reasons for the increasing IPV cases in the wake of COVID-19
Reasons for the increasing IPV cases are:
1. Due to the lockdowns, women are confined in their homes with their abusive partners with nowhere to go and get help.
2. The pandemic has overall increased the psychological disorders of the abusive partners which in regard ends with negative consequences and tension between the couple.
3. Many psychotherapists have issued a warning call about the increase in the requests for psychological support to reduce their anxiety and to help, cope with the constant exposure of terrifying news of COVID-19 spread and people dying.
4. Also, as indicated by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the indirect consequences of COVID-19, which includes economic uncertainty and social instability, may also lead to an increase in alcohol and drugs consumption which will lead to abuse of women.
5. In remote areas many women had to walk miles to receive any medical care and attention, as there was no services of transportation because of the lockdown, they had no internet access to reach social media platforms and they very had limited phone services to call for help and weren’t able to ask for help to their neighbours also.
6. IPV has greater health consequences for older women and a strong effect on emotional wellbeing and mental health which can be related to feelings of greater “worthlessness” or a loss of a sense of identity over time.
7. Low social support and isolation from the community.
8. Depressive symptoms will lead to shut down of their surroundings and won’t be able to share their problems with anyone.
9. Immigration stress due to low income or the situation of leaving the loved ones behind.
10. Verbal abuse will lead to disappointment of the partner and thus leading to abuse.
11. Unemployment and low income leads to stress between the couple due to the lack of fulfillment of their needs and thus lead to frustration.
12. Women bear the brunt of increased care work during this pandemic. School closures further exacerbate this burden and place more stress on them.
13. Partner of abuse may use restrictions due to COVID-19 as a means to exercise power and control over their partners to further reduce their access to services, help, and psychosocial support from both formal and informal networks.
14. Partner may exert control by spreading misinformation about the disease and stigmatizing partners.
Some estimates of the women’s condition
1. Global estimates published by WHO indicate that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced active violence which is was before the lockdown.
2. In March, an increase in the number of cases of violence against women was becoming across the world.
3. In France for example there was a 30% increase in the no. of cases of domestic violence.
4. In Argentina, emergency calls received for domestic violence cases increased by 25%.
5. In the first 2 weeks of the lockdown in Lagos state, emergency phone lines rang non-stop and it was recorded that there was a 64% increase in calls for women trapped at home with their abusers in fear for their lives.
1. Increase in the number of friends on the list
2. Speaking and talking out your problem with active interaction.
3. Developing help-seeking behavior with the people living nearby.
4. Teaching safe and healthy relationship skills like social-emotional programs for youth and healthy relationship programs for couples
5. Engaging with influential adults and peers can help men and boys in prevention including family-based programs.
6. Protective interventions from childhood
7. Developing Self-esteem and
8. Coping strategies for controlling stress and anxiety in couples.
9. Trying, to the extent possible, to maintain daily routines and make time for physical activity and sleep.
10. Using relaxation exercises (e.g. slow breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding exercises) to relieve stressful thoughts and feelings.
11. Engaging in activities that in the past have helped with managing adversity.
12. To keep information about violence against women hotlines, social workers, child protection or nearest police station, shelters, or support services that are accessible. Be discrete so that your partner or family members do not find out and you keep safe.
Alternative treatment options for women during the COVID-19 outbreak
1. In this regard, the Canadian Women’s Foundation has launched the “Signal for Help” campaign, which includes a simple single-handed gesture that can be used by the victims during any video calls to silently and safely ask for help.
2. Health care sectors should urgently develop effective strategies which can provide an adequate response to women victims of IPV during the pandemic or other public health emergencies that may be able to help, limit access to hospitals.
3. WHO suggested that care for IPV victims should be integrated, as far as possible, into existing health care services with unity and courage rather than offered as a stand-alone service.
4. The WHO Global Campaign for Violence Prevention, plan of action for 2012–2020 aims at improving the health and safety of all individuals abused by addressing underlying risk factors.
5. Major goals of the plan are
(1) to give importance to violence prevention within the global public health agenda.
(2) To define the problems on the local grounds through the systematic collection of information and data.
(3) To research the evidence which helps to determine the causes and risk factors of violence.
(4) To implement effective and promising interventions which will help to prevent violence.
6. All stakeholders involved in the COVID-19 response need to be aware of and raise awareness of the potential impacts that physical distancing, stay at home, and other measures to address this pandemic are likely to have on women who are subjected to violence and their children.
7. Access to vital sexual and reproductive health services, including for women subjected to violence, will likely become more limited.
8. Other services, such as hotlines, crisis centres, shelters, legal aid, and protection services may also be scaled back, further reducing access to the few sources of help that women in abusive relationships might have.
Though the problem of pandemics cannot be resolved by our desire instantly the problems arising from it like intimate partner violence should be restricted. These are the problems which will not only affect a particular country but the whole world. Government should take measures to restrict its effect and guarantee the safety and the dignity of women living beyond the shadows of COVID-19.
In my opinion, every women should not get scared of the men in their house because they use violence. They should seek help from outside as soon as possible. They should share their feelings and ask for consultancy if possible. A member of their family should be aware of the situation going on.