Study shows link between COVID-related financial stress and domestic violence

CONTENT DISCLAIMER: This article is about domestic and sexual violence.

A disturbing new report based on a survey of 10,000 Australian women has found a link between financial pressures from COVID-19 and rising domestic violence.

the Economic insecurity and intimate partner violence in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic The report comes from the Australian National Research Organization for Women’s Safety. He asked women who had been in relationships about their experiences during the first 12 months of this pandemic.

31.6% of respondents said they had experienced emotionally abusive, harassing and controlling behavior from a partner or ex.

9.6% suffered physical violence and 7.6% suffered sexual violence.

According to the report, Australian research found that the pandemic coincided with two different types of intimate partner violence. People experienced intimate partner violence for the first time in their relationships, and there was a continued escalation in violence.

One of the key findings of the study was the impact of pandemic-related financial pressures on intimate partner violence (IPV).

“There was strong evidence of a relationship between economic insecurity and recent IPV,” the report said.

“Women with higher levels of financial stress were significantly more likely to have experienced physical and sexual abuse or emotionally abusive, harassing, and controlling behaviors compared to women who reported low levels of financial stress at past 12 months.”

The report clarified that this relationship between financial stress and domestic violence only seemed to be true for early victims of domestic violence.

Women who reported economic hardship were also more likely to experience domestic violence than those who did not.

“Economic hardship was associated with both first-time and repeat abuse, suggesting that it may be a cause of IPV in some relationships and in others may be characteristic or a consequence of the type of financial abuse. suffered by victims and survivors of IPV.”

In addition to these findings, the report’s authors said there was evidence of economic disparity in relationships “associated with a higher likelihood of IPV”.

Women who were primary breadwinners were more likely to experience physical and sexual violence as well as emotional abuse, harassment and controlling behaviors.

“Notably, as with financial stress, this relationship only existed for victims and survivors of primary violence, suggesting that it also contributed to the violence experienced by respondents,” the report said.

While women who were primary breadwinners were more likely to experience domestic violence than those who were not, women whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic also reported higher rates of domestic violence. higher.

“Women who had lost their job, taken a pay cut, or reduced their hours (hereafter referred to as job loss or job loss) were significantly more likely than women whose jobs were unaffected for the pandemic of having experienced physical violence and sexual violence at the hands of their current or most recent partner for the first time,” the report states.

The report also found that when people’s partners lost their jobs, there was an increased likelihood of physical or emotional abuse and harassment for the first time.

Women who had ever experienced domestic violence were four times more likely to experience physical violence if their partner had taken a pay cut, reduced working hours or lost their job.

According to one of the authors of the study Anthony Morganalthough it is impossible to say with certainty that the first violence is caused by economic or financial stress, there is a strong relationship between the two.

“I think that’s pretty strong evidence and complementary to the work that’s been undertaken around the world,” he said, according to the ABC.

“It was kind of this confluence of financial stress, lost time from work at home, increased pressure in terms of childcare. There was a whole series of factors that came together.

Mariam Mouradthe CEO of Bankstown Women’s Health Service and Fairfield Women’s Health Service in Sydney also told the ABC that she has seen an increase in cases of domestic violence.

“We had a new cohort of women who had never experienced or reported domestic violence in the past,” Mourad said.

“We had to work with this cohort to talk to them about how to support them and access the justice system and access the police after hours. It was very difficult, very difficult.

“We end up with all the domestic violence work because we are connected to women and women know us and we provide safe and secure services to women.”

According to the report’s authors, the study’s findings are consistent with a growing dissemination of international evidence that links the economic pressures of COVID-19 to both first-time and escalating domestic violence.

“The findings draw attention to the need to address women’s economic security and not just in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its short- and long-term economic consequences.

Image: Getty Images/Lisa Maree Williams

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