Domestic Violence May Be On The Rise Due to COVID-19

What causes domestic violence? What does one do when they are faced with domestic violence? One of the biggest concerns of people is what to do if your spouse, significant other, or family members becomes abusive in today’s post-outbreak society. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, domestic abuse was already a difficult situation to escape, but now, due to the temporary shutdown of many businesses, and an order directing against social gathering, many victims are left with little choices regarding escaping abusive situations. While the virus affects everyone differently, the elderly and those with breathing conditions are the most at risk, and as such, even the option of moving back home with your parents, if even available, runs a risk to them.

The question remains – what causes domestic violence and will it increase due to the precautions and measures taken to combat COVID-19? The short answer to these 2 questions is that the inability to control your surroundings will likely increase the number of domestic violence cases. There are many different causes for domestic violence. According to Dr. Toby D. Goldsmith, of the Emory University School of Medicine, abuse starts when one partner feels the need to control and dominate the other partner. The causes for this need to feel in control may be due to low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, difficulties in regulating anger and other strong emotions, or when they feel inferior to the other partner in education or socioeconomic backgrounds.

The COVID-19 pandemic brings these issues to the forefront of a relationship. Currently, unemployment applications are at a record high. As of April 1, 2020, more than 6.6 million people have submitted claims for unemployment, which represents a 3,000% increase in applications. Some people feel that the need to be on unemployment threatens their ability to provide for their family. And this could be amplified if one partner is continuing to work while the other is relying on unemployment. This scenario is being seen all over the United States and, while not all will experience domestic violence, those that are predisposed to domestic violence will experience it.

Dr. Goldsmith further explains that some abuse is based on a person’s belief and not their situation, such that, some people have traditional views that translates to them thinking they have the right to control their partners. These people generally have the view that this is a male dominated society and women are not equal. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this traditional view combined with the inability to provide for their families will lead to an increase in the domestic violence in the United States.

Another factor to consider in the potential rise of domestic violence is the increase in the amount of alcohol and drugs that will be used. A link to addiction has been found between abuse and boredom. Unless the person can find something to stimulate their mind, being bored leads to an increase in use of alcohol and drugs, and for those that have recovered from such abuse, will lead to a re-use of drugs and alcohol. Dr. Goldsmith further explains that a drunk or high person will less likely be able to control either their emotions or actions, which contribute to violent impulses.


Regardless of the cause for the domestic violence, one thing remains true – under no circumstances does this justify this type of behavior. There may be an increase in the amount of domestic violence due to the COVID-19 preventative measures, but no one should have to subject themselves to it. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are avenues of relief. Call the police and document all instances of abuse. These instances can be used to obtain either temporary or permanent orders of protection.

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, you should seek out an experienced divorce and family law attorney to protect you and your family. The divorce and family law attorneys at the Marnell Law Group have the knowledge and experience you need to guide you through all aspects of the divorce and family law proceedings including, but not limited to, issues of equitable distribution, child custody, child support, spousal support, orders of protection, abuse and neglect, CPS matters, and pre-nuptial agreements. Give us a call at (516) 542-9000 or send us a message on our contact page, and we’ll work with you through your divorce and family law matters.