Domestic Abuse is on the Rise
While the Covid era stretches on via new variants and more economic uncertainty, it brings with it a host of related problems. One of the more serious ones is domestic violence.
The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported a 25-33% increase in domestic violence back towards the start of the pandemic. Other sources have placed the numbers between 25-80%. Unfortunately (judging from what the mental health community has seen) these numbers appear to stay high. While the exact statistics aren’t in yet for the end of 2021/beginning of 2022, views on the ground look disheartening.
“I’ve seen it at my own practice,” said Dr. Arthur Bregman, MD. “The problems of covid have created a lot of mental friction in and between people.”
Domestic violence can include violence between a romantic couple, elder abuse, and child abuse. While there are other ways domestic violence occurs these are the three big ones.
“First social isolation and distancing took away peoples’ usual social support systems,” explained Dr. Bregman, “Whereas a victim might have had friends and distant relatives to go to for comfort and help, they were suddenly thrust into a closed-off habitation with abusers.”
Even with vaccines and the re-starting of public life, families still face financial troubles, new stressors they’ve never seen before, and almost as much uncertainty as there was last year.
“All of this Covid strife has led to the exacerbation of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and skyrocketing levels of substance abuse. These together create a fertile environment for domestic violence,” according to Dr. Bregman.
“Abusers essentially use the pandemic’s consequences to victimize.”
Domestic violence often occurs in settings where one individual has authoritative power over the others like a parent, overbearing partner, or nefarious caretaker. Over the past two years, they've had more chances for violence as people isolate and fear/stress pervades their mindset. As explained by Dr. Bregman, “it causes regression to intemperate behaviors many might have been suppressing, and mixed with substance abuse or a serious mental disorder it can wreak havoc in close quarters.”
And sometimes, victims are too ashamed to speak up.
“Because of the shame, only recently in our society have we talked about this happening,” said Dr. Bregman, “we live in a culture where image is important and shame goes a long way to silencing things.”
But now the culture of silence is starting to change.
“Police reports, domestic abuse hotlines calls, and even at our psychiatry practice there’s been a marked increase in domestic violence victims seeking support since early 2020.”
This uptick is jarring but luckily these avenues are exactly where domestic violence sufferers need to go for professional help.
“One can not stress enough the importance of seeking professional help in these situations. It’s the best solution because it gets the ball rolling on change.” said Dr. Bregman.
Expert guidance can provide the confidence needed to break free. It can be through a hotline, a support group, a mental health professional, or of course the authorities if it comes to that. However sometimes it’s hard to gain access to resources in an emergency, so 3 general tips from Dr. Bregman for safety in a domestic violence situation are:
- Stay away from weapons and if they’re at your household, keep them safely locked away at all times.
Confide in a trusted friend or loved one so they can go to the authorities if you can’t.
Be as prepared as possible to make an escape in case of danger: keep a packed bag hidden if you can, have a safe destination in mind, etc. A thoroughly detailed list of ways to prepare for leaving can be found at https://asafeplaceforhelp.org/get-help/domestic-violence-safety-tips/
We can also raise awareness. This serves to further empower sufferers of domestic violence and bring attention to the cause so we can work together to stop this violence and support the victims.
If you are enduring domestic violence please reach out for help. It can and often does escalate into a dangerous and possibly life-threatening situation. Here are two reliable resources to help you in your “flight to freedom.”
https://www.thehotline.org/ (1-800-799-SAFE) - A hotline to call for support and to report a domestic violence situation.
https://ncadv.org/ (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) - This website has done great work battling domestic violence and offers an extensive list of even more resources to help in a domestic violence situation.
Locally across the country and much of the world, regional resources are also available with information and websites online. We encourage you to quickly and safely access these in order to escape and get life back on track, away from abusers and closer to hope.
If you need help dealing with the emotional effects of domestic violence or have to reach out to someone, Bregman Medical Group is here for you. We’ve helped victims of domestic violence and sufferers of various psychiatric disorders for over 40 years. We offer online or in-person appointments for psychiatric and therapeutic services - simply schedule an appointment at www.bregmanmd.com or call 786-321-4909.