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Author Notes:

Kathryn G. Wyckoff, Email: kathryn.wyckoff@emory.edu

DPE, AJZ, and RNS developed the study design. KGW, DPE, SN, KS, and NG contributed to data collection. KGW conducted data analysis and data interpretation. KGW conducted the literature review, drafted the initial manuscript, and edited the final manuscript. DPE and SN contributed to reviewing and editing the final manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

The authors would like to acknowledge and extend gratitude to the survivors who took time to share their experiences while enduring a global pandemic and facing the repercussions of intimate partner violence. Their experiences and bravery in the face of violence during an unprecedented public health crisis fuel our passion to continue this work and amplify their voices. We are immensely grateful to these survivors for openly discussing their traumatic experiences and playing a role in bettering our society’s response to intimate partner violence.

The authors declare no competing interests related to this work.

Subjects:

Research Funding:

A Synergy Research Award from the Woodruff Health Sciences Center supported this work. The study sponsors had no role in the study design; in data collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit this paper for publication.

Keywords:

  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
  • Intimate Partner violence
  • Domestic violence
  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic
  • Movement Restrictions

"COVID gave him an opportunity to tighten the reins around my throat": perceptions of COVID-19 movement restrictions among survivors of intimate partner violence

Tools:

Journal Title:

BMC PUBLIC HEALTH

Volume:

Volume 23, Number 1

Publisher:

, Pages 199-199

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF

Abstract:

Background: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) poses a serious public health threat globally and within the United States. Preliminary evidence highlighted surges in IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic offers a unique context, with many states and countries enacting movement-restrictions (i.e., shelter-in-place orders) that exacerbated IPV. Although these movement restrictions and other infection control methods (i.e., isolation, quarantine orders) have proven successful in reducing the spread of COVID-19, their impacts on IPV have not been thoroughly investigated. Specifically, public health measures restricting movement reinforce and socially legitimize isolation and coercive control tactics enacted by perpetrators of abuse. The purpose of this study was to understand the impacts of COVID-19, including the impacts of movement restrictions (i.e., shelter in place orders, quarantine, isolation orders) on experiences of IPV from the perspective of survivors. Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with ten survivors who presented at a large, public hospital or sought community IPV resources (i.e., domestic violence shelter, therapy services) in Atlanta, Georgia between March and December 2020. Thematic analysis was carried out to describe the impact of COVID-19 movement restrictions on IPV and help-seeking behaviors among survivors, in addition to identifying resources to improve IPV response during pandemics. Results: Through discussion of their experiences, survivors indicated how movement restrictions, social distancing measures, and the repercussions of the pandemic influenced their relationship challenges, including the occurrence of new or a higher frequency and/or severity of IPV episodes. Survivors cited relationship challenges that were amplified by either movement restrictions or consequences of COVID-19, including reinforced control tactics, and increased financial or life stressors resulting from the pandemic. COVID-19 movement restrictions catalyzed new relationships quickly and sparked new or intensified violence in existing relationships, revealing gaps in IPV support services. Conclusion: These findings suggest COVID-19 movement restrictions and social distancing measures amplify IPV and experiences of trauma due to new or exacerbated relationship challenges. Further, results highlight how partners cited COVID-19 movement restrictions to justify methods of coercive control. Public health professionals engaged in pandemic preparedness must give serious consideration to how social distancing measures may amplify trauma in those experiencing IPV.

Copyright information:

© The Author(s) 2023

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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