Domestic Violence Surges During Pandemic
Many divorce lawyers have noted an increase in marital separations during the pandemic due to domestic violence. With the stay-at-home orders now being eased, we’re starting to learn the truth about what happened during the past few months. Even before the orders to stay home, 123 victims died from domestic violence in Pennsylvania in 2018.
A Worldwide Issue
Back in April, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres noted that domestic violence had increased during the pandemic as stay-at-home orders became the norm. Both social and economic pressures have led to problems within the home, a place where people should feel their safest.
In his speech, Guterres mentioned that the number of women who were calling support services had doubled. He urged that governments make it a priority to treat domestic violence as well as the coronavirus.
Families Are Stressed
At this unprecedented time, parents are struggling with economic uncertainty, financial concerns, political unrest and the possibility of COVID-19 infection. When questioned in social surveys, families reported the following emotions:
- Feeling overwhelmed
All this adds to the feeling of being stressed, which is hard on positive family dynamics. It is harder for people to regulate emotions when this stress occurs. Berating loved ones as well as themselves is how some people cope with the uncertainty of the times. Uncertainty may get so bad that it manifests as violence in the home. In some cases, this has occurred in homes where abusive behavior has never occurred before.
What is domestic violence? According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence, IPV, domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”
Domestic violence can be physical or emotional. For example, regular threats and intimidation are signs of IPV. When the parents in a home are feeling powerless because of outside forces, such as the COVID-19 virus, it heightens the need to regain control. This may result in aggressive behavior, both mental and physical.
There is evidence that the murder-suicide rate in which a male partner kills a female and then himself has risen since the same period last year. There is no question that stress has been a factor in many homes.
While the country re-opens, those who have locked down with an abuser may begin to seek a solution. Lawyers are already noting the spike in divorce filings. However, it may be unclear for a while just how much domestic violence increased in 2020.
Children Can Get Through Divorce
Now that full lockdown has ended here in Pennsylvania, it might be time for you to move on. Your home may no longer be a safe place, and perhaps you feel as if you are lost in the water and are not sure how you’ll get back to the safety of the shore. Your children’s welfare could be a great concern as well.
The thought of divorce brings a lot of fear to some. If you’re in this situation, reach out to friends and family. Your kids will need to rely on you, and you can provide routines that will provide care and structure, assuring them of your love in an unsettling time.
Explain the separation to your kids. They may have already witnessed the reason while you were all at home, but it should now be discussed honestly with a child-friendly explanation.
Help Is Available
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence works with local programs to ensure the safety of survivors of domestic violence. Their site also offers advice for staying safe during the pandemic, both in English and in Spanish.
Whether you have experienced abuse or not, it’s important to seek help from a divorce lawyer before ending a marriage. The Law Office of Joanne Kleiner can provide the legal guidance you need. Located in Jenkintown, our office serves Montgomery County, Bucks County and Philadelphia County. Contact us online or call us at 215-886-1266 to schedule a consultation.