Article by: Haider Rifaat
COVID-19 continues to take flight in many of the hotspot countries such as the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, and France, where the rate of positivity has significantly increased over the past few weeks. Owing to extended lockdowns, families at large have had to stay indoors for months to avoid the potential spread of the virus, enabling domestic abuse against women to take precedence.
According to sources, Australia and Italy have reported an uptick in domestic abuse against women this year. A survey found that 10 percent of Australian women were victims of domestic abuse during the pandemic. ISTATS (Italian National Institute of Statistics) uncovered that domestic abuse helplines saw a 75 percent increase in users this year, which only raises more alarm for women and their safety.
Women and children remain one of the most subjugated and oppressed groups in the world today. Even women in the most developed countries have to validate their existence and merits in a society let alone those who are stripped of their basic rights in other parts of the world.
Women are more vulnerable and that makes them easier targets, especially considering the circumstances of the pandemic. Families have been living indoors for nearly a year, therefore, an increase in abuse against women is more likely. Psychological and physical suffering is bound to take a toll on them and their general well-being.
Additionally, the overall family dynamic has changed since the pandemic emerged in March. Couples are working from home and are in the company of each other throughout the day. Therefore, anxiety and stress can translate into anger and frustration, causing men to displace their negative emotions onto their spouses or immediate family members.
We also know that the global economy has experienced a major blow this year and millions are out of jobs or are heavily in debt. In times of immense financial strain, the pressure of making ends meet can trigger individuals to commit verbal or physical violence against their significant others, or at least the probability of doing so may increase.
Women are largely thought of as caregivers. They are expected to look after their families every day. This also holds true for working women with families of their own. Not being able to live up to those expectations in times of greater responsibility can pit couples against each other.
The divorce rate has shot up during the pandemic as well. The United States saw a 34 percent increase in divorces as compared to last year. We can attribute this factor to varying forms of abuse, intolerance towards each other, and other irreconcilable differences.
It is important for women in particular to recognize the difference between having arguments and letting abuse take precedence over you. Couples should take the time to invest in their relationships, and engage in couple therapy sessions to make their marriages work.
If, for some reason, your partner is abusing you every other day, report to your immediate family members or to the local authorities. No woman should continue living in an environment that threatens her safety. Know that enduring abuse is encouraging abuse. So, take a stand for yourself. As an alternative, make use of domestic abuse helplines to voice your concerns. Ask representatives on call what you can do next and they will guide you accordingly.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone, anywhere. Victims have to put up with the worst of psychological, emotional, and physical trauma to the point that they hit rock bottom. Therefore, it is crucial that women rely on helplines that render mental health services. More importantly, they should muster the courage to flee a toxic relationship. The longer you choose to stay in an abusive relationship, the more violence you would suffer. So, make a conscious decision that favors you.