The COVID-19 pandemic and current isolation at home of the majority of people across the globe has led domestic violence incidents to skyrocket. In Australia, Google reports a 75% increase in online searches for help with domestic violence. In China, the number of calls to helplines has tripled, according to the U.N., and here in the US, police departments and hotlines are reporting a 20%-35% increase in cases. Couple this data with the fact that many shelters nationwide are currently closed or not accepting new clients in order to protect the health and safety of staff and current residents, and the picture of this crisis quickly becomes much bleaker.
However, COVID-19 itself is not the problem. The number one reason survivors in the US stay in or go back to abusive situations is financial insecurity. The Center for Disease Control estimates that domestic violence will cost a female survivor almost $104,000 in medical bills, legal fees, property damages, and other related costs. This six-figure debt is exacerbated by the fact that economic abuse (which can take many forms such as not being allowed to work, having little or no access to cash, and being forced to take on debt through physical threats) occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases. Survivors are trapped in violence because it is overwhelmingly expensive to overcome both the cost of being harmed and the devastatingly intricate impact of being financially abused.Read More