This blog was originally published on May 11, 2022.
In a typical year, 243 million women and girls worldwide experience intimate partner violence. The staggering effects of these occurrences touch every part of our society, and, sadly, the full scope of domestic violence incidents cannot be known with certainty, given that nearly half of them go unreported. Victims stay silent because of social pressure — fearing that they won’t be believed or feeling pressure to stay in the abusive relationship. Furthermore, women and girls who experience intimate partner violence are at greater risk of mental health issues, unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases compared to those who do not experience violence. For victims in these all-too-common situations, help and hope can seem hard to find.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, calls to helplines increased as much as five times, according to research from UN Women. Since 2020, due to stay-at-home orders and other pandemic stressors, reports of domestic violence have increased, and for those marginalized by race, sexual orientation, and disabilities, rates of abuse have increased by 50%. The reasons for the increase include:
The pandemic has increased opportunities for violence for people confined to their homes with abusers.
There are fewer safeguards in places, like schools and hospitals, and mandated reporters have fewer in-person interactions to catch warning signs.
With more healthcare moving to telemedicine, victims are less likely to seek the care they need because they are worried about being overheard. Because of this and other factors, only 34% of people injured by an intimate partner receive medical care.
With so many women and girls experiencing intimate violence, it is possible you know or will encounter someone who needs help. Here’s what you can do:
Know the signs of domestic violence, such as a partner being jealous of time spent with friends, controlling financial decisions, or actively shaming or blaming the victim.
Don’t ignore your intuition if something looks or feels “off.” In most cases of domestic violence, a family member is aware.
Write down and document what you witness and call the police if there is immediate danger.
Another way to help is to know about and support local organizations by raising awareness, donating, or volunteering. Fewer than 1 in 10 violent crime victims seek assistance making victim information, education, and notification critical. VINE offers a service provider directory that can help victims find local help. Millions of victims/survivors and concerned citizens have access to timely and reliable information about offenders or criminal cases through VINE.
These painful facts are a reality for many people. They need to be known because women and girls continue to be at risk, and as long as we keep talking about these issues and learning what we can do to help, there is hope.
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