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The Crisis Inside the Crisis: Gendered Violence and COVID-19

The Crisis Inside the Crisis: Gendered Violence and COVID-19

If you are concerned about your partner finding this article or subsequent research, consistently clear your browser history or use a device that they cannot access. Immediately find a local organization to help you start making a plan. Anti-violence organizations have been very nimble in determining how to provide support even in the current circumstances of COVID-19. In Canada, try Ending Violence Canada. In the USA, try The Hotline.


The current reality in Canada, and the world, is that (cis) women experience gendered violence disproportionately to (cis) men. At least one in three women in Canada have experienced sexualized assault in their lifetimes. LGBTQQI2S folks are even more likely to experience violence. Further, First Nations women are 6x more likely to experience physical or sexual abuse.[1]

The advent of COVID-19 greatly increases the likelihood of gender-based violence. Experience dictates that domestic violence and sexualized assault cases increase greatly in emergency times. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina, domestic violence increased by approximately 98%.[2] Women’s rights organization, Weiping, is reporting a 3x increase in violence in China in direct correlation to COVID.

Why does gendered violence increase in “crisis” times? Factors include:

  • Increased financial pressure
  • Decreased housing security
  • Decreased food security
  • Fear re: COVID-19: forcing partners to wash hands, bathe, stay in certain parts of house
  • Difficulty accessing resources
  • Decreased ability to leave the home
  • Generalized stress
  • Increased substance use
  • Increased time with partner, focus all blame on them
  • Knowing partner is isolated and vulnerable
  • Decreased contact with friends and family

It also makes leaving harder. Factors include:

  • Challenges planning due to COVID-19
  • Lack of privacy
  • Needing to stay safe: survivors need to weigh if it is safer in the house or the shelter (In COVID era)?
  • Decreased contact with friends and family
  • Inability to leave house
  • Decreased ability to access services (Not alone to do phone calls; can’t necessarily meet support services in their office)
  • Desire to feel connected and safe during challenging times
  • Need to keep children safe through self-isolation
  • Survival instinct: “It’s safer here than out there.”
  • Belief that there is nowhere to go

If we know this is happening and will continue to happen, what can we do?

Know that help is available.

Anti-violence organizations are still available. They have been working to determine how to provide effective, efficient service even if face-to-face contact is impossible.

Check in with your friends and loved ones.

Ask how they are doing. Let them know you are there for them, and that there are organizations to help. If you are concerned, direct them to resources.

Learn more.

Abuse is not only physical, and all kinds of abuse are very damaging. Types of abuse include emotional, financial, sexual, verbal, online, stalking, gaslighting and more. Here are a couple helpful links to start:;

If you can, volunteer and/or donate. 

Find what local organizations are doing and what kind of help they need. Maybe this year, you can donate your birthday funds to an anti-violence not-for-profit. Maybe you can volunteer to pick up food for your local Transition House. Just reach out and see – they will know what will help them help others.

We at Bonjibon want to extend our deepest gratitude to those who are showing up for all of us. Health and health services workers, law enforcement and first responders, critical infrastructure service providers, food and agriculture service providers, non-health essential service providers, communications, information and sharing tech workers, infrastructure and manufacturing, vulnerable population service providers: We see you. We thank you. We hold you in our hearts.

Feature image via @herplaceisin

Check this out! What Are Transition Houses?

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