A new study finds that stay-at-home orders increased cases of domestic violence

The coronavirus-induced shutdown has had numerous negative impacts on individuals. Lockdowns and social distancing measures have decimated small businesses; worsened people’s mental health; caused massive job losses, especially among low-income workers; caused children significant loss in learning. Additionally, they have also increased deaths of despair.

As I have written before, it will be long before we can fully account for the negative impacts of the coronavirus lockdown. But more and more data continue to show how harmful the lockdowns were to people’s lives. Not only did lockdowns not significantly improve COVID-19 outcomes, but they worsened health, economic, financial, and social outcomes for numerous individuals. One good example is a new study shedding light on how lockdowns affected domestic violence.

Numerous studies in the past year have found evidence showing an increase in domestic violence during the pandemic. One helpline, for instance, saw an 8% increase in domestic violence calls. Additionally, there was also an increase in the number of officers killed responding to domestic violence calls.

There are numerous factors associated with this trend. For one, lockdowns, coupled with negative economic outcomes, exacerbated factors that likely contribute to violence. Additionally, stay-at-home orders severely hampered victims’ ability to escape abusers. As this article explained,

In many situations, COVID-19 mandates require that women remain locked down with their abuser. Friends who women may have previously been able to turn to may no longer be in a position to help, due to social distancing regulations. Women may also be justifiably afraid to leave for fear of exposing themselves and their children to the virus, including going to a shelter — if shelter beds are even available.

According to a recently published NBER study, one of the ways in which lockdowns affected domestic violence was through alcohol consumption. According to the findings of the paper, the lockdowns pushed people to drink more at home instead of other venues like bars and restaurants. This potentially increased the occurrence of domestic violence.

Though a little too late, it is a positive thing that numerous states are lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Minnesota should follow suit.