The image in black and white, is of a young girl, who covers her face with her arms, Concept photo of family violence.

Ongoing since the start of COVID-19, concerns for people experiencing domestic and family violence have grown. This article brings together telephone contacts, Apps and web resources to help you or someone you know who is vulnerable to domestic or family violence.

Quicklinks

Planning Checklists
Crisis Lines
Apps to Support You
Web Support Resources

Heightened risks of exposure to unwanted behaviour are evident. Men, women, children and people with disability could be more vulnerable than ever to violence, bullying and abuse as they are isolating in response to COVID-19 regulations. Increased stressors with economic and employment concerns, being isolated in their home with their abuser or spending more time online for education and schooling as they learn remotely, are cause for concern. The increase of adolescent family violence is also noted. Technology facilitated abuse is also on the rise. In May 2020, the Australian Institute of Criminology conducted a survey of 15,000 Australian women about their experience of domestic violence during the initial stage of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

In the 3 months prior to the survey, 4.6 percent of respondents experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former cohabiting partner. Almost 6 percent of women experienced coercive control and 11.6 percent reported experiencing at least one form of emotionally abusive, harassing or controlling behaviour.

For many women, the pandemic coincided with the onset or escalation of violence and abuse. Two-thirds of women who experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former cohabiting partner since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic said the violence had started or escalated in the three months prior to the survey.

Many women, particularly those experiencing more serious or complex forms of violence and abuse, stated safety concerns were a barrier to help-seeking.

Julie Inman Grant, the eSafety commissioner warns that victims may be trapped at home. And via her twitter account, shared concerns that technology-facilitated abuse has become an extension of coercion, harassment and control of women experiencing Domestic violence.

Outside of COVID-19 timeframes Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics are: 

  • 2 in 5 people aged 18 and over have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15, including 42% of men and 37% of women (1 or more incidents)
  • 4 in 10 men and 3 in 10 women experienced physical violence
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men experienced sexual violence.

Technology facilitated abuse is a concern for those supporting victims, as the perpetrator may have bypassed privacy and security settings, or have remote access to devices and accounts.

Image of a woman on the telephone, a child is in her lap, holding hands over their eyes

Planning Checklists

This Online Safety Checklist gives you essential online safety steps if you are in a domestic and family violence situation. A Checklist for Friends and Family can help friends and family to support someone who is being followed, stalked or controlled through social media or their devices (phones, tablets or computers).

Where to get help - Crisis Lines

If your own device or phone is compromised, you may be able to access a safe device from a friend or neighbour. A safe device is one that your abuser is not able to check and cannot access.

Apps to support you

Web Support and Resources

Among the known risk factors to the perpetration of domestic and family violence, loss of income, and unemployment risk are at a heightened level under COVID-19 circumstances. In response to this, the Prime Minister of Australia and the federal government have pledged a $1.1 billion package boosting mental health services, domestic violence support, Medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief. 

Further reading

National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service (COVID-19 Section)
Royal Commission statement on COVID-19
The University of Melbourne Pursuit
IDEAS Blog Staying Safe Online
IDEAS Blog National Crisis Numbers
IDEAS Blog Domestic and Family Violence Helping - a friend in need
 

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