Isolation, domestic violence, and Australia

AUD 150 million support from the federal government to support Australians experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from coronavirus should speak volumes on the seriousness of the subject – but, somehow it didn’t spark the engagement it should.

Nevertheles, we have to discuss the issue. Here’s why:

  1. Google saw a 75% surge in searches for domestic violence help since isolation guidelines began. The search is the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence they have seen in the past five years.
  2. According to an AFP Report, Women’s Safety, a domestic violence charity in Australia’s most populous New South Wales state, has reported that more than 40 per cent of workers had seen an increase in client numbers, with over a third of cases directly linked to the virus outbreak.
  3. NSW Police has reported two incidents of domestic violence in its website within the past 24 hours.
  4. According to the same AFP Report, in Victoria, women’s support service Wayss said police requests for assistance with cases had almost doubled in the past week.

Furthermore, organisations have been raising concerns after abuses of new forms were being reported – for example, many victims are complaining perpetrators are using the virus either as an excuse, or a threat.

Wayss chief executive officer Liz Thomas told public broadcaster ABC that they’ve seen a surge in the number of reports of perpetrators claiming they cannot leave the house because they’ve contracted the disease. Perpetrators have also invited “people into the house where the woman is self-isolating, saying that the visitor has Covid-19 and is going to infect them”, Ms Thomas said.

Meanwhile in Nepal, helplines are actually receiving a lesser amount of calls – which actually increases worry.

According to Karshang Choedon of Asha Nepal, (registered as Nepal Prajanan Syahar Kendra), “while the number of incidents relating to GBV may be rising, we are actually receiving lesser amount of calls.”

When asked why, she said “because the victim is confined to the same space as her perpetrator, how will s/he complain?

According to Choeden, usually victims call helplines, or reach out to their support system (friends, family) after the abusive partner has left the home – but with the lockdown, the perpetrator isn’t leaving. Therefore, the victim has to live in constant fear, which adds to the mental trauma of being in an abusive relationship.

Cases of a surge in domestic violences have surged not only in Australia and Nepal, but the globe – China, Spain, Brazil – you name the country and organisations working for the welfare of women and children will tell you that the numbers are on the rise.

“Just having the people in the house, rather than having the pressure release of going to work, or being able to travel freely outside of the house are contributing factors,” Wayss chief executive officer Liz Thomas told public broadcaster ABC.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s support comes at an important time – and a relief to Australian organisations working for the welfare of victims, and even perpetrators.

Prime Minister Morrison said the A$150 million boost – part of an additional A$1.1 billion in health-related spending announced on Sunday – would be spent on telephone support services for both domestic violence victims and abusers.

Meanwhile, if you, or anyone within your contact is experiencing domestic violence, they are urged to contact any of the following numbers:

Immediate Help (Life threatening emergency): 000
Lifeline: 13 11 14
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Each state also has dedicated numbers for assistance towards Domestic Violence Cases. Please search the contact details of your respective state and reach out to them.

Further information on Domestic Violence – its forms, effects, rights, and how to leave an abusive relationship, please visi the following link of