Domestic violence is a ‘shadow pandemic’

Cases of domestic violence have escalated as many women are forced to stay home with their abusers

Approximately 24 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the Domestic Abuse Hotline.

Experts across the globe say this issue is only getting worse because of the lockdown that is continuing in many parts of the world due to the coronavirus.

In what the United Nations has called a “shadow pandemic,” cases of domestic violence have escalated as many women are forced to stay home with their abusers while many of their support systems have been disrupted.

Read More: Downturn in domestic violence calls during pandemic worry advocates

For countless women and children around the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has posed a double threat: the risk of contracting a deadly virus coupled with the danger of being stuck in close quarters with increasingly violent abusers.

“Sometimes, reported abuse cases are falling drastically, and you would think that violence is going down but it’s just the opposite,” said Christina Wegs, the global advocacy director for sexual and reproductive health and rights for CARE. “The drop is reflecting that women and vulnerable people are not able to report what’s happening.”

Emergency calls for domestic violence spiked by 25 percent since lockdown began in Argentina, and the U.S.’s National Domestic Violence hotline reported an increase in the number of victims reaching out by phone or text.

But according to the Washington Post, worldwide statistics are mixed. There has been a surge of reported cases of domestic violence in some countries during the pandemic, while in other countries, including the U.S., reported cases have declined.

Read More: Rihanna and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donate $4.2M to domestic violence victims

But advocates who work with victims say the decrease in complaints merely masks a darker reality. The closings of schools and day care centers have prevented teachers and social workers from identifying and reporting abuse and many victims are either afraid or unable to make the call.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, call The Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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