How COVID-19 Has Impacted Intimate Partner Violence

Updated: Oct 2

As COVID-19 cases surged in the United States, stay-at-home orders were put in place, schools began to close, many workers were furloughed or laid off, and other measures were implemented to protect the public and prevent widespread outbreak. This resulted in domestic partners and families spending more time together at home. This has left many survivors trapped with their abusers, creating a perfect storm for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

While there isn’t comprehensive evidence to conclude that the rate of IPV has increased during COVID-19, many reports have indicated a large spike in IPV since COVID-19 first started. Overall, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will experience violence from their partners in their lifetime, and the pandemic has only exacerbated traditional IPV factors. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and with the ongoing pandemic disrupting daily life, it’s important to raise awareness and give voice to a subject so often masked in silence. 


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IPV does not discriminate. It affects millions of men and women of every race, religion, culture, and socio-economic status. While it is oftentimes physical violence, it is not just black eyes and bruises. IPV is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over a survivor. It includes threats, humiliation, yelling, stalking, manipulation, isolation, and other tactics that belittles the survivor and creates a forced sense of dependency.

It’s not always easy to tell if a relationship is abusive, and in many cases abusive people appear like ideal partners at the beginning of a relationship. Abusive behavior may not become apparent until later on, and emerges and intensifies over time. Every relationship is different, and domestic violence takes on different shapes and forms, but some common signs are:

  • Exerting strict control over a partner, especially financially and socially.

  • Emotional abuse, including insulting, demeaning or shaming a partner.

  • Isolating a partner from friends and family.

  • Extreme jealousy of a partner’s friends or time spent away from them.

  • Needing constant contact including texts and calls.

  • Inexplicable injuries.

  • Expressing fear around a partner.

  • Extreme intimidation and threats.

Those signs only scratch the surface of IPV. Abuse can manifest itself in a number of ways from verbal to sexual. Ultimately, understanding the various ways that abuse appears can prepare you, and others, to respond safely to situations.