For media requests, please email or call Executive Director Renee Carr on 0435 597 976.

Experts warn that COVID-19 impacts on domestic violence just beginning,

Key domestic violence experts are issuing a joint warning that the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s safety are only just beginning to be felt, and will compound the risks women face from abusive partners or family members for months and potentially years after isolation measures are lifted. 

Australia’s expert body, Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, backed by campaigning group Fair Agenda are advising that: 

Everything we know about the behaviour of abusers suggests that both the immediate and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to increased danger for those experiencing abuse in their home. Beyond the additional risks created by isolation measures trapping many victim-survivors with abusers, the transition out of these measures will also compound safety risks over the months and potentially years of this recovery period.

Decades of evidence about perpetrator behaviour shows that governments must now plan for: 

  • Risk of escalating abuse in the home as isolation measures begin to lift, and some perpetrators using violence in response to the loss of control they have been able to exert in the home during lockdown;
  • Surges in contact with services from victim-survivors who haven’t had the ability to safely reach out for help while they were trapped in constant proximity with their abuser; 
  • Escalation of surveillance, harassment and threats by separated abusive partners as they  are able to travel to victim-survivors’ residences again;
  • Increased numbers of women requiring crisis accommodation and case management support, as windows of opportunity for them to escape open for the first time in weeks;
  • Increase in the use of violence by perpetrators when their dominance in the household is threatened by job loss or financial insecurity; and
  • Greater barriers to escape for women whose financial security is undermined by job loss or financial insecurity.

All the evidence we have about compounding risk factors for violence tells us that we’re going to see more people affected by violence for the first time; and more who were already dealing with abuse facing escalated violence. Without further action from governments; our communities will not only see unfathomable health and economic impacts - but also an escalation of the family violence crisis already devastating our communities. 

There are women around the country reaching out for help to escape their abuser and seek a safer future. They’re doing all they can on their own - but they need support for the next steps. Right now, governments’ decisions are leaving thousands of women on their own with an abuser who is determined to isolate and control them, and dealing with a legal system that might actually increase risks to their safety. 

Governments need to: fund specialist women’s and family violence services to ensure everyone can access the service support they need for their safety; ensure the legal system makes the safety of victim-survivors and their children a priority; and assist those at particular risk due to visa status or disability to access essential support. 

Media contact: Renee Carr, 0435 597 976. 


Recent Press releases:

Previous press releases available here.


Recent coverage

GP phone calls, mental health help expands, Nine News, 29 March

The Hidden Crisis of COVID-19 , Pro Bono News, 24 March 

As 63 Women Are Turned Away From Services Each Day, Family Violence Workers Are Testifying At An "Unnecessary" Inquiry, BuzzFeed News, 13 March

The government’s inaction on domestic violence slammed as ‘appalling’ & ‘irresponsible’, Women’s Agenda

Law change could have saved Hannah Clarke and her three kids’ lives, 10 March 

Australian urged to take action amid rising violence against women, Al Jazeera, 6 March

Women's safety could be improved 'within weeks', campaigners say  The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March

These are 5 actions Women’s Safety Ministers must urgently address  Women’s Agenda, 4 March

Family violence experts slam poor funding, 22 February 2020

Reproductive healthcare facing ‘biggest threat in decade’ with Religious Discrimination Bill, Women’s Agenda, January 2020