The links of stress, substance use and socio-demographic factors with domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal

J Public Health (Oxf). 2023 Jun 14;45(2):491-498. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdac024.


Background: Lockdown, as a measure implemented to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, left many domestic violence (DV) victims trapped with their abusers. This study intends to explore the links between perceived stress, substance use and socio-demographic factors with DV experiences during COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out on a sample of 1062 participants over 16 years old, residing in Portugal. Data were collected through an online survey conducted between April and October 2020. The associations between potential factors and DV were investigated using bivariable analysis and multivariable logistic regression.

Results: The prevalence of DV reported was 13.75% (n = 146), disaggregated into psychological violence (13%, n = 138), sexual violence (1.0%, n = 11) and physical violence (0.9%, n = 10). Multivariable analyses confirmed that perceived financial difficulties (OR = 1.608; P = 0.019), use of medications to sleep or calm down (OR = 1.851; P = 0.002) and perceived stress (OR = 2.443; P = 0.003) were responsible for DV exposure during COVID-19 pandemic. Younger age (<25 years old) and consumption of alcohol were associated with a higher risk of DV victimization.

Conclusions: Interventions aimed at preventing and confronting DV are necessary within the strategies to combat COVID-19 in Portugal, especially aimed at groups in vulnerable situations, during and after the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Portugal; domestic violence; gender; health risk factors; socio-demographic factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Domestic Violence* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Portugal / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology