Domestic Violence And The Poverty Trap

graphic of person hitting another on the head
UN Women - Domestic-violence photo by UN Women is licensed under CC BY 3.0
The UN's symbol for domestic violence. The UN called out the rising risk of domestic violence early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Australia, COVID-19 has dealt a double blow to people who experience domestic violence. The lockdowns have made it much more difficult to leave and/or avoid violent partners. At the same time, job layoffs meant reduced financial independence.

Women form the majority of the service sector workforce, which has been largely classed as non-essential during COVID-19. Layoffs have been widespread.

Research about domestic violence during Australia’s bushfire emergencies in 2019 found a strong connection between financial independence and decisions to leave violent relationships. Cathy Humphries argues the bushfire findings should also apply with COVID-19.

Humphries, who teaches at the University of Melbourne, urges that the temporary emergency funding, which was paid to laid off workers during lockdown, should be extended. An extension could mean the difference between people staying in dangerous relationships and leaving them. This is particularly important because domestic violence has been on the rise since COVID arrived in Australia, along with cases of domestic strangulation and sexual assault.

The research reported in this article is of potential interest in countries that have been experiencing a rise in domestic violence during COVID-19. Read more in PURSUIT: Poverty Is Trapping Women In Abusive Relationships