In a typical year, 243 million women and girls worldwide experience intimate partner violence. Amid the pandemic, calls to helplines increased as much as five times. The uptick in abuse was caused by increased stressors, fewer safeguards, and more opportunities. Unfortunately, nearly half of domestic violence incidents go unreported. Many victims of abuse feel too embarrassed to report; they may be pressured by friends or family to stay, have a lack of privacy, or fear they won’t be believed by others. Additionally, there is a large psychological impact abuse has, and it makes it harder for victims to leave. Part of abuse is isolating victims from their friends and families, and prolonged loss of confidence and self-esteem prevents people from coming forward.
So, how can you help stop domestic violence? Knowing the signs is the first step; domestic violence often doesn’t start right away – learn to spot early warning signs. Two signs include controlling financial decisions and jealousy of time spent with friends or away from a partner. In most cases of domestic violence, a friend or family member is aware of the abuse – even incidents that aren’t reported. If someone confides in you about their situation, listen without judgment, ask how you can help, and check in regularly. Someone experiencing domestic violence may not be able to research shelters and services safely, so knowing your local resources can help.