Intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic in Western and Southern European countries

Eur J Public Health. 2021 Oct 26;31(5):1058-1063. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckab093.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant problem with several negative health outcomes. Disasters are linked to increased IPV, but little is known about reporting of and strategies to address IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic. This review maps the IPV reporting during the pandemic and interventions to prevent and respond to IPV in 11 Western and Southern European countries.

Methods: Government websites, news articles and pre-prints were searched using the terms 'domestic violence' or 'violence' in combination with 'Covid' or 'Corona'. Embase, PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar were searched using the terms 'domestic violence' and 'partner violence' and 'interventions'.

Results: Six countries showed an increase in domestic violence reports (Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Spain and UK), two countries a drop (Italy and Portugal), two countries showed no change (The Netherlands and Switzerland) and one country did not provide comparative data (Germany). Common measures to address IPV were starting a campaign (nine countries), creating online support (seven), more funding for alternative accommodation (seven) and support (eight) and use of a code word (four).

Conclusions: IPV reports or helpline calls in Western and Southern European countries in the first weeks of COVID-19 measures increased in six countries, remained the same in two countries and showed a decrease in two countries. While this review cannot ascertain the impact of the measures taken by the countries during the pandemic and beyond, this mapping provides a foundation for future research, and an opportunity to trace the efficacy of these strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Domestic Violence*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2