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Domestic Violence, the “Shadow Pandemic,” Grows during Coronavirus

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By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University

Domestic violence is a continuous threat not only in the United States but around the world. On a global scale, domestic violence has become such a big problem that the United Nations describes it as the “shadow pandemic” with the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic violence often increases during times of great stress. Traditionally, this stress is associated with intimate partner disputes, work problems, tension with children in the household, and financial problems.

Coronavirus Has Added an Entirely New Dynamic to Household Stress

However, the coronavirus has added an entirely new dynamic to the stress and strain within the household. Domestic violence is thought to have increased by 20% during the coronavirus lockdowns and closures. This makes sense since the pandemic has affected nearly everyone in different ways.

Some people have faced financial hardships, loss of employment, and health problems. Others have been forced into self-confinement at home with someone with a history of domestic violence abuse. Self-quarantine is especially dangerous for victims of domestic violence who depend upon time away from home to act either as a cooling off period in the relationship or to seek help and protection.

90 Countries Have Been in a Lockdown at Some Point during the Past Several Months

The United Nations has identified 90 countries that have been in a lockdown at some point during the past several months. Those measures have affected four billion people around the world. Furthermore, the UN has reported increases in the use of domestic violence helplines and shelters.

The need for social distancing has reduced the capacity of many domestic violence shelters. To address this problem, some organizations such as the Domestic Violence Network and Families First Indiana have used grant funding and individual donations to provide extended stays at hotels for domestic violence victims who need to escape a volatile situation.

Addressing the Shadow Pandemic during the Coronavirus Pandemic

To address the ongoing threat of increased domestic violence due to the coronavirus, shelters and helplines should be considered essential services. Every country should provide increased funding and make major efforts to increase public awareness of these shelters and helplines.

By increasing technologies, domestic violence victims should be able to reach out for help. This can include emergency text message services by local 911 centers and online tools both in policing and in the civilian sector where abuse can be reported discreetly. Police officers who respond to routine calls play an important role within the community in monitoring for indicators of domestic violence.

[Related: How Officers Can Help Prosecutors Convict Domestic Violence Perpetrators]

In the United States, there have been more than 48 million coronavirus tests as of July 21. Testing facilities personnel and administrators have an important role in looking out for indicators of domestic violence.

Individuals who appear at testing facilities looking timid, seem to have been coached what to say by an accompanying domestic partner, or showing bruises at various stages of healing may be victims of domestic violence.

[Related: Traversing the Difficulties of Domestic Violence Calls]

Coronavirus testing facilities, hospitals, and medical offices should have domestic violence pamphlets readily available with information on hotlines and resources such as shelters, and other community resources.

It is important to draw attention to this shadow pandemic and provide information and assistance, so that domestic violence victims have a place to turn to during these challenging times.

shadow pandemicAbout the Author: Dr. Jarrod Sadulski has been involved in homeland security for over two decades and he is an associate professor at American Military University. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States and Central America on the topic of human trafficking. Most recently, he presented at the International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction, and intelligence gathering. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019.

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor in the School of Security and Global Studies at APU. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.

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