CBC: National survey finds domestic violence during pandemic was more frequent and severe

Kate Dubinski
Amanda Margison · CBC News · 

The first national survey of agencies who help survivors of gender-based violence has found the pandemic increased the prevalence and severity of violence. (Shutterstock)

Gender-based violence during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in Canada was more severe and more frequent, according to the first national survey of those who worked with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors during the pandemic.

Almost as soon as the pandemic began, agencies helping survivors of domestic violence warned that victims would suffer as a result of quarantine rules, and the survey of 376 staff and volunteers working at transition houses, shelters, immigration centres and other social agencies coast-to-coast confirms those fears. 

Almost half of those surveyed said they noticed changes in the prevalence and severity of violence, with 82 per cent saying the violence increased and got more frequent. A fifth said abusers’ violent tactics changed and control over their victims increased, including a sharp uptick in cases of strangulation, the survey found. 

There have been “many more cases of strangulation and serious physical assaults leading to a higher risk of lethality,” said one worker surveyed. 

‘”I have noticed that isolation during the pandemic has been a tipping point for some people causing the abuse people experience to go from bad to worse, causing women and children to seek immediate shelter from partners,” said another.

The survey was conducted by Ending Violence Association of Canada and London, Ont.-based Anova, from May 18 to July 20, 2020.

Those surveyed said abusers took advantage of the conditions created by the pandemic to increase control over their victims, using isolation at home as a tool to ramp up violence, using information about coronavirus to exert control, or monitoring and controlling access to technology to limit the amount of help a victim was able to access. 

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Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/national-survey-domestic-violence-end-violence-now-anova-1.5698028

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.

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