Changing Patterns of Domestic Abuse during COVID-19 Lockdown
50 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020 Last revised: 9 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 9, 2020
The effects of preventing a COVID-19 health crisis have had unintended consequences on domestic abuse (DA) victimization. We contribute to the literature on domestic abuse in lockdown by providing insight on how changing patterns of domestic abuse can explain differences in magnitudes reported across studies. We examine the patterns of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown in Greater London and find that the lockdown changed the nature of reporting and the type of relationship the abuse occurs within. While abuse by current partners as well as family members increased on average by 8.1% and 17.1% respectively over the lockdown period, abuse by ex-partners declined by 11.4%. These findings show that reporting the average change in domestic abuse during lockdown can be misleading when designing a policy response. Moreover, we show that all the increase in DA calls is driven by third party reporting, particularly evident in areas with high density. This suggests that under reporting is present in the lockdown, particularly in households where the abuse cannot be reported by an outsider. Although these findings pertain to the COVID-19 lockdown, they also highlight the role that victim exposure and proximity has in affecting domestic abuse.
Keywords: Domestic Abuse, COVID-19, Reporting, Crime
JEL Classification: J12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation