Are alarmingly high rates of domestic violence fated to be our new normal? There’s some disturbing evidence trending that way.
Domestic violence spiked during the lockdown months of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many homes became sealed-off pressure cookers of isolation, economic hardship, untreated mental health problems and increased substance abuse. But as life has edged back to “normal,” the numbers haven’t come down; calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline actually increased to historic highs last year.
The continuation and isolation of remote work may be playing a role in these persistently high rates of abuse, which have been reported by local advocates and service providers for abuse survivors as well. Another deeply disturbing factor: climate change, which a burgeoning body of research indicates is a real driver of the outside pressures and domestic dangers that put women at risk.
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month winds down, The Fuller Project’s commitment to the story won’t end. We keep a year-round spotlight on violence against women, and we stay out in front of the latest trends, worldwide. That’s how, on the heels of state shutdowns, we were quick to report on the challenges frontline domestic violence responders faced when trying to help victims of abuse who could not flee their attackers. We went deep into the aftermath of a Texas winter storm to show the impact of now-common severe weather disasters on domestic violence in the U.S. And most recently, we highlighted abuse survivors’ stories in Kenya, India and the Philippines to show how extreme weather events around the globe are contributing to what the United Nations has called a “Shadow Pandemic” of violence against women.
The chronic stressors – familial, social, financial and environmental – that increase the risk of domestic violence aren’t going away, and neither are the crisis conditions that increase abusers’ ability to exert control and limit victims’ ability to leave. And The Fuller Project will be there.