Social isolation, time spent at home, financial stress and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

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In this study we use data from a large online survey of Australian women to examine whether the increased time spent at home, social isolation and financial stress resulting from COVID-19 containment measures were associated with a higher likelihood of physical and sexual violence among women in current cohabiting relationships with and without a history of violence.

An increase in the amount of time spent at home with a partner did not in itself increase the likelihood of violence among either group. However, the probability of repeat or first-time violence was between 1.3 and 1.4 times higher for women who had less frequent contact with family and friends outside of the household during the pandemic.

While financial stress prior to the pandemic was a strong predictor of violence for both groups, the probability of first-time violence was 1.8 times higher among women who experienced an increase in financial stress. We conclude that the pandemic was associated with an increased risk of violence against women in current cohabiting relationships, most likely from a combination of economic stress and social isolation.