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By Stacy M. BrownThe Washington Informant
Jamie R. Wright describes herself as a small-town girl born in rural northeast Oklahoma.
The mother of two adult daughters and a senior program manager said she became homeless during the pandemic due to domestic abuse.
So when Wright heard about a study conducted by scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine that revealed just how bad the trend of physical, sexual, and intimate violence had become, she didn’t. wasn’t surprised.
“I believe intimate partner violence has increased dramatically due to stress and anxiety related to lack of economic means and the uncertainty of our future,” Wright said.
“I also believe, and know now, that for people who cause abuse, studies show it’s because of the need to [them] possess power and control over their partner.
Wright added that she believes many cases of intimate partner violence have gone unreported for years.
The study of Californian scientists confirmed this belief.
In the Golden State, scientists have found that 18% of residents have experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past year, and one in 25 Californians has experienced domestic violence.
The researchers noted that reliance on criminal justice data to examine the state of violence “fails to capture the extent of abuse” experienced or committed by residents.
The California Study on Violence Experiences across the Lifespan (CalVEX) survey offered insight into these experiences as reported by a statewide sample of adults.
“This survey is unique in its ability to provide population-level estimates of physical violence, including experiences of using weapons, as well as a range of experiences of sexual violence, including harassment, coercion and forced sex,” the scientists wrote.
While violence remains high, reports are low.
The scientists found that men were more likely than women to report having been victims of physical violence in the past year (11% versus 5%).
Men reported that a stranger was the perpetrator of gun violence, while women reported partner violence.
Most of those who experienced physical violence in the past year never reported it (93% of women, 87% of men).
“The pandemic has killed many people and broken family units [and] the response to this has put many people out of work and pulled students out of school, removing regular structure from their lives,” said Ben Michael, attorney at Michael & Associates.
“The George Floyd protests and the police response to them have created another dynamic, with police in several cities waiving law enforcement in many neighborhoods, leaving criminals free to be bolder” , Michael said.
“The economic disruption caused by inflation and the end of the child tax credit has increased the economic pressure on people. So it’s all of those reasons and more,” Michael added.
The researchers noted that over the past year, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence were more likely among gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, people with disabilities, people with a history of homelessness or incarceration and those who have faced past problems. year of eviction or financial hardship.
The problem is not unique to California.
Murders are up more than 36% in the Northeast and Midwest, according to the Brennan Center.
It increased by 26% in the South and nearly 27% in the West.
“After years of decline, crime has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially violent crime,” the Brennan Center researchers reported.
A July report from the Criminal Justice Council showed that homicide rates in nearly two dozen cities where crime figures are readily available are still nearly 40% higher than before the pandemic.
“As people suddenly have so many restrictions, they don’t know how to express their pent up emotions,” said Veronica Thompson, COO of Everyday Power.
“Ultimately, those bottled up emotions come out immediately, aggressively and physically, hence the rise in abuse,” Thompson explained.
The author noted that current violence prevention efforts “are grossly inadequate and often ignore the gendered nature of violence, its intersections with other socioeconomic vulnerabilities, and its disproportionate effects on marginalized populations.”
The authors concluded that multilevel approaches including social and normative changes regarding dignity and human rights, improvements in the policy environment to strengthen social and economic safety nets, and improvements in prevention policies and programs violence and mental health services are needed.
“These approaches need to be implemented at the community level as well as in key diverse and multi-sectoral institutions, such as schools and health systems, to address the crisis of violence and improve reconstruction efforts more broadly. COVID-19 and health equity.
This post originally appeared on The Washington Informer