COVID-19 and the Loneliness Pandemic: Implications for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors

22 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2020

See all articles by Lisa Goodman

Lisa Goodman

Boston College

Deborah Epstein

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: November 9, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically highlighted domestic violence survivors’ isolation, and has triggered innovative efforts to reach out to people who are trapped in their homes, more endangered by a partner than by the virus. But a related – and extremely damaging - consequence of this challenging time has received far less attention: survivors’ intensified experience with loneliness. Although loneliness can be catalyzed by isolation, it is a distinct psychological phenomenon that is interior and subjective in nature. Loneliness is not only acutely painful in its own right, but it also inflicts a range of long-lasting health-related harms, and heightens survivors’ vulnerability to IPV, creating a vicious cycle that may continue long after strict stay-at-home policies end. This may be particularly true for marginalized survivors, for whom larger structural inequalities and institutional failures heighten and compound the negative impact of loneliness. This brief report describes what we know about the nature and costs of survivor loneliness; and argues that that the COVID-19 pandemic provides a useful impetus to both review the ways in which current DV interventions may help alleviate loneliness (as distinct from isolation), and how we might intentionally adopt deeper and more expansive measures, now and particularly after a return to “normal.”

Keywords: women and gender studies

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Lisa and Epstein, Deborah, COVID-19 and the Loneliness Pandemic: Implications for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors (November 9, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Lisa Goodman

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Deborah Epstein (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9640 (Phone)

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