Pandemic response creates perfect storm for self-harm and domestic violence

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Locks and social distancing may be essential in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but they also have other deadly effects, according to a study from the University of Otago.

Dr Katerina Standish, of the National Center for Peace and Conflict Studies in Otago, says the public health response to the pandemic is negatively increasing rates of domestic violence and suicidality.

“The focus on combating the pandemic means, on a global scale, that the first goal is to control its ability to replicate and mutate. We know it’s necessary, but lockdowns and social distancing have other effects that are only beginning to show and they are deadly. too, ”she said.

For the research, published in the Journal of General PsychologyDr Standish analyzed billions of Google searches in the United States for the months of March through August in 2019 and 2020, looking for signs of psychological stress.

The search terms were classified into two categories: precariousness, insecurity, discouragement, helplessness, indicative male violence and intentional male violence. They included research such as ‘I lost my job’, ‘I have nowhere to go’, ‘I want to die’, ‘no one will help us’, ‘how to hit a woman so no one knows’ and “he will kill me.”

The results showed a “crushing upsurge” of the six categories from 31% to 106%.

While the study focused on US-based research, Dr Standish says the findings can be generalized to other countries.

“I had originally collected data in several countries for the UK, US, Aotearoa-New Zealand and Canada and the effects were quite similar, in fact, in places where the pandemic was “better,” there were even higher indicators of suicidal and femicidal violence. COVID-19 is called the “ perfect storm ” for suicidal violence and UNWOMEN calls femicide during COVID-19 the “ shadow pandemic ”. “

Dr Standish calls on policymakers to put self-harm and domestic violence at the forefront of their concerns.

“As Dr Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Program said, ‘be the first to act’ – integrate the risk of suicide and femicide into responses to the pandemic. You can’t get data on the frequency of suicide spikes and domestic violence abuse without looking for them. We know these are underreported forms of harm. “

Adding buttons to contact tracers that signal imminent or experienced violence allows people to communicate the threat and the need. Making these unobtrusive and untraceable will mean social stigma and screening officers cannot “undermine” the tracer of help-seeking behavior, she said.

Its main message to the public is to be aware of those around you, to keep connections in real life, and to reach out to people who might need help.

“Many people are losing their income and sense of security and the virus has exacerbated the precariousness and insecurity that existed before the pandemic. Suicides occur when people are alone, feel lonely or don’t matter.

“We may lose some to the virus, but we also need to try to help each other survive the pandemic response. Check each other out and keep monitoring us.

In terms of femicide violence, she hopes people take domestic violence and violence against women and children as seriously as COVID-19.

“Most of the women who are killed have a history of coercive control by partners or ex-partners. The idea that we ask women to “lock themselves in” with violent agents means that we take their safety less seriously than “public” safety.

“Hopefully, as our world continues to focus on a scourge, we can be aware of whether or not our responses to the pandemic are sowing the seeds of more suffering.”


New research shares safety strategies for women victims of domestic violence during COVID-19 pandemic


More information:
Katerina Standish. COVID-19, suicide and femicide: quick search using Google search phrases, The Journal of General Psychology (2021). DOI: 10.1080 / 00221309.2021.1874863

Provided by the University of Otago

Quote: Pandemic Response Creates Perfect Storm for Self-Injury and Domestic Violence (2021, February 1) Retrieved February 1, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-02-pandemic-response-storm- self-harm-domestic. html

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