"Don't Know where to Go for Help": Safety and Economic Needs among Violence Survivors during the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Fam Violence. 2022;37(6):959-967. doi: 10.1007/s10896-020-00240-7. Epub 2021 Jan 4.


The COVID-19 pandemic and related quarantine has created additional problems for survivors of interpersonal violence. The purpose of this study is to gain a preliminary understanding of the health, safety, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people that are experiencing or have previously experienced violence, stalking, threats, and/or abuse. An online survey, open from April to June 2020, was taken by people with safety concerns from interpersonal violence. Participants were recruited from IPV and sexual assault-focused agencies, state coalitions, and social media. Quantitative data were summarized using descriptive methods in SPSS and coding methods from thematic and content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data from open-ended questions. A total of 53 participants were recruited for the survey. Individuals with safety concerns have experienced increased challenges with health and work concerns, stress from economic instability, difficulties staying safe, and access resources and support. Over 40% of participants reported safety had decreased. Use of social media and avoidance strategies were the most common safety approaches used. Participants reported mixed experiences with virtual services. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing structural concerns for survivors of violence like IPV and sexual assault. Increased support and economic resource access, coupled with modified safety planning and improved virtual approaches, would better help meet survivor needs.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Domestic violence; Safety planning; Virtual services.