The coronavirus emergency necessitated isolation at home in order to stem contagion. But for women victims of violence, home becomes a prison.
In every part of the world COVID-19 has forced us to change our habits, forcing us to stay at home. But not every home is a safe place. Many women victims of violence, in fact, these days are forced to be isolated together with those who abuse them. Since the beginning of the lockdown, there has been a significant decrease in reports of domestic abuse in several countries. Far from being good news, this situation probably shows how difficult it is to seek help in these hours to get out of violent situations. On the one hand there is the objective difficulty of being able to denounce the partner escaping his constant control, on the other hand there is a poor adaptation of the anti-violence aids to the changes due to the virus. The structures that normally host women who cannot stay at home because they live in an abusive relationship, do not yet have clear regulations on how to continue their valuable work. There are no solutions, for example, to accommodate women who are positive for the virus and simultaneously victims of violence. Looking at China, it is clear that there is one more factor that should not be underestimated. In Hubei, the area where the emergency originally broke out, three times more complaints of domestic abuse were made at the end of social isolation than during normal times. This extraordinary increase puts the focus on another crucial issue: the psychological stress caused by isolation can exacerbate the toxicity of relationships and turn into violence. For these reasons, it would be better to predict that, as in China, similar effects could occur in the rest of the world and to equip ourselves already now with all the tools to ensure that women do not choose between being victims of a virus danger or a brutal relationship.