Family and domestic violence

Research indicates that family and domestic violence increases during periods of emergency and economic instability. Public health and community containment measures introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19 such as limits on free movement, social distancing and self-isolation can provide perpetrators with additional opportunities to exercise control and violence, and make it harder for family violence victims to escape violence and seek support.

Family violence crisis services in the ACT have observed increases in the complexity of risks facing victims during COVID-19, including accessing support and reporting, as well as greater severity and complexity of violence with perpetrators using the pandemic to inflict new forms of abuse. Such heightened risks disproportionately affect specific groups in the community including women, older people and people with disability, and children and young people. Notably, visibility of children and young people decreased significantly at the height of COVID-19 restrictions due to school closures, withdrawal from early childhood education and care and the lack of community line-of-sight.

We call for greater coordination and sharing of relevant information among agencies and sustained public awareness campaigns to communicate the availability of victim support services and the clear message that escaping family violence and seeking help is not in breach of COVID-19 requirements and laws.

If you have experienced family violence or sexual assault or are worried about your safety Victim Support ACT can assist.

Resources about COVID-19 and family and domestic violence:

Victim Support ACT – Joint Media Release – ‘Family violence and sexual assault services remain open as demand grows)

Domestic Violence Crisis Service – Ways to increase safety during COVID-19 in easy English

MADRE – Briefing Paper: A Practical Approach to Prevent, Address and Document Domestic Violence under COVID-19

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing – Family violence and COVID‐19: Increased vulnerability and reduced options for support

Monash University, Gender-based violence and help-seeking behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic