A surge in domestic violence: how to protect yourself and where to turn for help during quarantine
As a result of isolation, the number of cases of domestic violence has increased significantly, says expert Alyona Kryvulyak.
During the period of quarantine due to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, Ukrainians began to turn to domestic violence hotlines more often for help.
Director of the Department of National Hotlines and Social Assistance of the NGO "La Strada-Ukraine" Alyona Kryvulyak in an interview Glavred spoke about what provokes people to domestic violence and what problems they seek help with, who is most often used for violence, how law enforcement agencies respond to calls from victims, how to protect themselves from uncontrolled aggression and whether the number of cases will decline after the end of the quarantine.
- Ms. Alyono, Ukrainians may suffer from psychological disorders now, due to the quarantine - how critical is this?
- If we talk about cases related to domestic violence and harsh treatment of children, then we see serious indicators - during the quarantine period, the domestic violence prevention hotline received almost 1,300 calls. And taking into account that we have only three consultants on shift at the same time, there are people who simply cannot call us - they simply hear that the lines are busy. Accordingly, there is a probability that this person will not call back. Missed calls during the quarantine period are most likely also related to domestic violence.
If we analyze the general picture, there may be about two thousand appeals indirectly. And this is only for our hotline - we do not know the official statistics of the National Police, which are submitted during the quarantine period.
- If we use only your numbers, how much has the picture changed compared to the pre-quarantine period?
- If you analyze calls in particular, then this is not such a big increase. But the peculiarity of this period is that consultations have become longer in time. If in the pre-quarantine period, a legal consultation lasted 5-10 minutes, and a psychological consultation lasted 30 minutes, now it is much longer - now they last about an hour, and people who seek legal advice also need a psychological one. We have another option for help - it is not, in principle, new for us, but it has gained relevance during the quarantine period - it is online counseling. We consult via Skype, Facebook Messenger, e-mail and the feedback form on the website. And we see an increase in such appeals, because a large number of women write to us that they cannot call because they are with their husband 24/7 and they are afraid that it might get out of hand.
- What is the most common complaint now?
- The reasons remained the same as before the quarantine. For example, financial problems have always been a risk factor in cases of domestic violence. Today, this factor is also present, but it becomes more acute, especially in those families where only the man works, and the woman does not work, because she is on maternity leave and receives only social assistance for the child. And this is also a big problem now, because the state is not able to fully cover all social benefits. We receive many complaints where women say that they do not have finances, apart from those that are paid for the child, the husband works remotely (and this is reflected in the salary level) or he was asked to go on vacation at his own expense, and accordingly, there is no that live and people begin to eat each other.