As people are making sacrifices to shelter in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, there are hidden costs that we may not have realized. Domestic and sexual violence as well as child abuse, all thrive in sectors of silence. More often than not, the abuse happens at the hands of someone the victim knows, usually a caregiver or a member of their household. At a time when people are required to stay at home, they may be at an additional risk of violence while trying to keep safe from a virus. Police departments across the country are reporting an uptick in domestic violence calls, and that is only the incidents that are being reported. We have no way of knowing the full extent of this problem.
Stressors such as substance use disorders and financial strain are two of the primary underpinnings of violence, and both are rising by the minute in our country as we reach unemployment benchmarks we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. Admissions to substance treatment facilities are skyrocketing, and while most of our economy is seeing a serious downturn, sales of alcohol are soaring. On top of that, as the fear around the virus began to spread in early 2020, toilet paper wasn’t the only thing flying off the shelves — so were guns. States reported gun sales skyrocketed amid fears of civil unrest and governmental orders.
At a time when people are required to stay at home, they may be at unintended risk of violence while trying to keep safe from a virus.
Economic stressors, a stay-at-home order, more alcohol in the home, and additional access to guns are the exact kindling required for a flurry of interpersonal violence. What can we do to help?