Domestic violence during pandemics
The project will investigate the short-, medium- and long-term effects that the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures taken to combat it had and continue to have on conflicts and violence in Swiss families.
This long-term study will firstly investigate how the scale of domestic violence has changed since 2017 according to official statistics and surveys, and the trend it is likely to follow in the period up to 2025. Secondly, the researchers will survey family members on the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures taken to combat it have impacted conflicts and violence in their families. Here we want to find out how risk and protective factors interact at different levels (individual, relationship, community, society) and why some families experienced more violence during this period than others. They are also interested in identifying the circumstances under which the people affected can obtain support and do so, and when this is not the case.
There were fears both in Switzerland and abroad that the measures taken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to more domestic violence. The studies that have been conducted to date have produced contradictory findings. Some show a rise in violence within families, while others do not. This is also true of studies from Switzerland.
The aim of the project is to make recommendations for preventing violence in times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. This will involve investigating how the scale of domestic violence has changed during pandemics and how the risk and protective factors affecting family violence interact. Only by doing so can the researchers understand why some families experienced (more) violence during the pandemic and the conditions under which the people affected obtain – or could obtain – support.
As yet, it is unclear whether or not domestic violence in Switzerland increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. We need more knowledge of the effects that crises such as the pandemic have on domestic violence so that this knowledge can be factored into political strategies. For the purposes of planning effective measures to prevent violence during crises, it is also important to know the conditions under which the people affected can and do obtain help and when they cannot and do not.
The findings of the study could provide a resource for more appropriately factoring families’ differing situations and stresses into political strategies and for increasing the specificity and effectiveness of prevention measures. Moreover, they will make it possible to plan and deploy support services for the people affected in a more targeted fashion.
Family violence and COVID-19: The pandemic within the pandemic