Some scholars have noticed that there is actually a pandemic within a pandemic happening these days. With the coronavirus forcing families indoors, many are dealing with the effects COVID has on everyday life in more ways than one. As more people are holed up inside, domestic violence rates have surged. With one in three women experiencing physical violence from an intimate partner, an increase in this already high number is a tragedy.
Organizations specializing in providing resources to domestic violence victims had anticipated an uptick in hotline calls. But they experienced something much more alarming. In some regions, organizations saw a 50 percent decrease in the number of calls. That’s because, with fewer opportunities to leave the house, victims could not safely make contact with these orgs. And as victims of intimate partner violence tend to be women, marginalized groups, and communities of color, it’s important to recognize the aspects of inequality that exacerbate the issue at hand.
Financial hardship is a key factor that relates to intimate partner abuse. And the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has put many people—especially women—in an incredibly difficult situation. The drop in jobs in the childcare, education, and service industries—which predominantly employ women—means that more women have become financially dependent and thus, trapped in abusive relationships.
The Great American Lie (the latest documentary by The Representation Project founder Jennifer Siebel Newsom) proves that you can’t separate gender from discussions around inequality. And with virus and domestic violence surging, the pandemic has only amplified the gender based violence and inequality. If we can get to the root of these issues, we can empower more women in abusive relationships to leave these situations by providing them with the support they need. Siebel Newsom spoke on the structural issues that are holding many Americans back, stating, “We know that we have systemic problems in our country that institutionalize these values of inequity.” Now is the time to acknowledge this.
Take Action! October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or a person you know is experiencing domestic abuse, check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s resources. Learn more about gender’s relationship with the economy and check out The Great American Lie on Apple TV and Amazon.