During the past four months of lockdowns, countries around the world have reported an increase of up to 25 per cent in domestic violence. The change, for some, has meant that their lives are confined to the most dangerous environment possible. This is a harsh reality with which we must reckon if we are to save lives endangered by domestic abuse, a threat that predates and will outlive any virus.
In our own backyard, almost one in 10 Australian women in a relationship has experienced domestic violence since the pandemic began, according to survey results of 15,000 women from the Australian Institute of Criminology. That number doubles when including emotional abuse, harassment and controlling behaviour.
Calls to helplines and the use of online support chat tools are spiking. For those women experiencing this increasingly frequent threat to their lives – and they are mostly women – closing the door to the outside world has meant the cutting off of lifelines, the silencing of worried friends and colleagues, and the frightening feeling that they are alone.
This pandemic has not bred abusive men, bored at home and looking for something to do. Rather, it has fanned the flames of anger and violence. As many men struggle with uncertainty, financial distress or job loss, some will seek opportunities to regain feelings of control and dominance via coercion and abuse at home.
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Opinion piece by Zac Seidler posted on theage.com.au