Locked Down with the Perpetrator: The Hidden Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic and Family Violence in Australia

Abstract

Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, domestic and family violence (DFV) had been recognised globally as an epidemic in its own right. Further, research has established that during times of crisis and/or after disasters, rates of DFV can escalate. The COVID-19 pandemic has been no exception, with emerging research from around the world confirming that the public health measures and social effects associated with COVID-19 have increased the frequency and severity of DFV in various countries. In contributing to this evolving body of literature, this paper reports on the findings of a national research project that examined the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on DFV in Australia. This nationwide survey of service providers indicates the public health responses to COVID-19 such as lockdowns and travel restrictions, while necessary to stem the pandemic, have had profound effects on increasing women’s risk and vulnerability to domestic violence, while at the same time making it more difficult for women to leave violent relationships and access support. However, this vulnerability is not evenly distributed. The pandemic pushed marginalised voices further underground, with many unable to seek help, locked down with their abuser. Our survey sought to amplify the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities; Indigenous communities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, + (LGBTIQ+) communities; women locked down with school-age children; those already in violent relationships; and those whose first experience of domestic violence coincided with the onset of the pandemic. For logistical and ethical reasons, we could only access their voices through the responses from the domestic violence sector.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2021-12-01
Pages:204 to 222
Section:Special Issue: Policing and Preventing Gender Violence in the Global South
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How to Cite
Morley, C. ., Carrington, K., Ryan, V. ., Warren, S. ., Clarke, J., Ball, M., & Vitis, L. (2021). Locked Down with the Perpetrator: The Hidden Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic and Family Violence in Australia. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(4), 204-222. https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.2069

Author Biographies

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Christine Morley is Professor and Head of the Social Work and Human Services Discipline in the School of Public Health and Social Work, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Justice at Queensland University of Technology. She is also Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She has published extensively on the application of critical theories to social work education and practice including books: Practising Critical Reflection to Develop Emancipatory Change (2014), Engaging with Social Work: A Critical Introduction, (lead author with Phillip Ablett & Selma Macfarlane, 2nd Edition 2019) and The Routledge Handbook of Critical Pedagogies for Social Work (lead editor with Phillip Ablett, Carolyn Noble and Stephen Cowden, 2020).

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Kerry Carrington is a Research Professor in the QUT Centre for Justice Queensland University of Technology, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Australia, and founding Chief Editor of Open Access International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy.   She has an extensive track record leading cross-cultural, multi-lingual research collaborations across the Global South. Kerry is a co-author of Southern Criminology (2019) Feminism and Global Justice (2015) and over 130 other publications.

 

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Vanessa Ryan is a Senior Research Assistant at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Centre for Justice. She has undertaken extensive research on the impact of COVID on domestic and family violence services and their clients in Australia, and is a senior researcher on several projects including preventing gender violence, improving the policing of gender violence, and reducing young women’s offending through improved service delivery.  

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Dr Shane Warren is a Lecturer in the School of Public Health and Social Work, Faculty of Health, QUT.  He is also a member of the Centre for Justice, QUT.  His research interests including housing, homelessness, gender-based violence and the effects of neoliberalism on cotemporary social policy and social work practice.

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Dr Joanne Clarke, BSW (Hons) PhD is a Lecturer in Social Work, and the Field Education Coordinator of the Social Work and Human Services Discipline in the School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. She has published on critical reflection in Field Education and in the area of Women and Violence. Her current area of research interest is on family court processes in the context of domestic violence. 

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Dr Matthew Ball is an Associate Professor in the School of Justice, QUT, and a member of the QUT Centre for Justice. He researches at the intersections of sexuality, gender, and criminal justice, and is a foundational scholar in the field of Queer Criminology.

Queensland University of Technology
 Australia

Dr Laura Vitis is a Lecturer in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology. Her research focuses on how technology is used to facilitate gendered, sexual and domestic violence. Her work also examines the role of mediated sites in justice-seeking for violence against women with a particular focus on informal justice-seeking and true crime.