Feminist perspectives on increased domestic abuse during Coronavirus lockdown

Lockdown saw a significant increase in Domestic Abuse cases, according to this Guardian article.

According to the F-Word, the charity refuge reported a 7000% increase in calls to its abuse helpline just three weeks into lockdown, and Karen Ingala Smith, who tracks the number of women killed by men, reports a near three fold increase in female by male deaths during lockdown compared to the same period in previous years.

Why did we see an increase in Domestic Abuse cases during Lockdown?

According to Feminist analysis (and in classic sociological style) this is the wrong question….

Being forced into lockdown intensifies any relationship, and so those relationships that are already abusive will become more so, it’s almost as if there’s nothing to explain here!

The problem, according to the F-word, with how some media outlets have reported the increased rates of DV is that they seem to use the virus as a mitigating factor, almost blaming it, rather than the violent men, for the abuse.

The fact is that most of those women who had to turn to support services, or were killed by men during Lockdown would already have been in an abusive relationship for several years – so Lockdown was just an exacerbating factor, not the cause, so using Lockdown, or the virus more generally as an explanatory factor is kind of letting men off.

This reminds us that we should remember that rather than something unusual, this spike is really providing us with a window – it is making more visible the violence that is already going on for the female victims unfortunate to be involved in it.

What we need to be thinking of is not so much reasons for the spike, but reasons why some men are violent in the first place, and of course holding them to account!

Related posts

This is an update to ‘good resources for researching domestic abuse‘ and should be of use to students studying both the families and households option and Crime and Deviance within A-level sociology.

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