Physical and non-physical intimate partner violence during COVID-19: How did the pandemic influence the types and severity of abuse?

Mr Anthony Morgan2, Prof. Jason Payne1

1University Of Wollongong
2Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, Australia

There is now a large body of research that has demonstrated how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted intimate partner violence (IPV) globally. Many of these studies have relied on police data, which is limited to the measurement of criminalised (mostly physical) forms of abuse, while IPV is consistently under-reported to police—potentially even more so in the midst of a global pandemic and associated containment measures. Research based on surveys of service providers and the community has observed changes in the prevalence of victimisation and help-seeking, but also changes in the patterns and severity of IPV. In this study, we use data from an online survey of Australian women to examine the relationship between the pandemic and physical and non-physical violence, the onset and escalation of abuse, and specific forms of non-physical abuse. Changes in the time spent at home were associated with the onset, repeat and escalation of non-physical forms of violence, but not physical violence. Changes in financial stress were associated with first-time physical and non-physical violence, while changes in job status were associated with escalating violence. There were important differences between the pandemic-related correlates of different forms of non-physical abuse, including dominating and isolated behavior, technology-facilitated abuse and stalking. These results reveal how the dynamics of IPV vary by the type and severity of abuse, and how the pandemic has had differential impacts on women’s safety that may be overlooked in aggregate-level trends.


Anthony Morgan is a Research Manager at the Australian Institute of Criminology


Dec 09 2021