COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, has changed daily life for virtually everyone worldwide. Many businesses are closed, social distancing is encouraged or even enforced, and people are staying at home to avoid contracting the virus or passing it onto others. One less-publicized effect of COVID-19 is the risk for a spike in domestic violence cases, including throughout the U.S. and California.
According to Jamye Coffman, medical director at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, it won’t be clear how social distancing and quarantining will truly affect domestic violence towards partners and children for quite some time. However, the effects of the virus and the subsequent societal shutdown, including huge unemployment numbers, food insecurity, illness, and being confined in close quarters for long periods of time could result in more instances of abuse than normal.
Coronavirus Effects Mean Losing Control
One of the biggest consequences of COVID-19 is a loss of control over their lives that many Americans feel. At-risk families may experience domestic violence, including increasing numbers of incidents or more severe incidents, due to this loss of control. Experts believe that traumatic and disruptive events in the outside world can “push people over the edge” and make them more likely to engage in violent or abusive behavior towards loved ones or people they live with.
Factors that can play a role in increased incidents of domestic violence include:
Disrupted routines—Humans are creatures of habit, and when our daily routines are significantly disrupted, many people find it difficult to cope. COVID-19 has resulted in businesses and schools closing, which means children may have to engage in distance learning, while parents must telecommute. This disruption can result in significant stress.
Layoffs and furloughs—Economic instability is another major stressor that can result in violence or abusive actions. By March 28, 2020, 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims for the first time in their lives in a single week. In addition, roughly half of Americans say they’ve experienced reduced income or job loss a result of the virus. When households are strained due to finances, domestic abuse becomes much more likely to occur.
Lack of support systems—In many cases, domestic abuse can be stopped or reported by others in the lives of victims. But school and business closures, as well as social distancing, make it difficult to see others. For example, children may no longer have close contact with teachers, coaches, and school staff members, while adults may no longer see coworkers, friends, and family members. Typical warning signs of abuse may go unnoticed for much longer periods of time.
Forced close contact—The secretary-general of the United Nations says that the number of domestic violence calls in many countries has doubled as a result of COVID-19 and its related quarantines. In many cases, domestic violence can occur simply due to people being forced into close proximity to one another for long periods of time. Whereas victims or abusers may have previously left their homes during heated conflicts, now they may be required to stay indoors, which means situations that might have defused continue to escalate.
Shared custody disputes—With homes being on lockdown and travel restrictions in place throughout the U.S., including California, it has become more difficult for parents to share custody of their children. That means parents may go much longer than normal without seeing their children, or they may have custody of them for much longer than was agreed upon in court. Custody issues are a major source of dispute before, during, and after divorce, and the pandemic has made it much more difficult for parents to abide by established rules.
Closed courts and leasing offices—Getting a divorce may be much more difficult or even impossible right now due to courts throughout California closing or having significantly reduced hours. In addition, abuse victims or those who wish to divorce their spouses may be unable to secure alternate living arrangements, as leasing offices, realtors, etc., are also closed or operating under reduced hours.
In addition to these prominent factors, another aspect that deserves consideration is the uncertainty of the situation. There’s currently no end in sight for social distancing and quarantine, and for many Californians, the sense of normalcy has been replaced with a new reality. That can be difficult for many people to accept, causing them to lash out and act violently towards the people around them, including their children, spouses, or partners.
As Always, We’re Here to Help Domestic Violence Victims
At the Law Office of André J. Ausseresses, APC, we know that domestic violence never stops, regardless of what’s going on in the world. In fact, as this pandemic proves, many outside situations can cause it to increase in frequent or severity. If you or your children are victims of domestic violence, you need an experienced Orange County family law firm that can protect your rights. You shouldn’t have to live your life in fear, especially when there’s so much else going on in the world that requires your attention and concern.
We’re available for a free initial consultation of your case. We want to hear what’s going on in your life, so that we can better understand how to help you. There’s no obligation, and we serve people throughout the Orange County area, including Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, and more. Get the experienced legal representation you need during this difficult and sensitive time. Call today—we’re ready to help.
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