Intimate partner violence before and during the COVID-19 lockdown

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O’Hara Caitlin Alsandria, Tan Rayner Kay Jin (2022) Intimate partner violence before and during the COVID-19 lockdown: findings from a cross-sectional study in Singapore. Sexual Health, https://doi.org/10.1071/SH21229

BackgroundThe coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in lockdowns worldwide, with reports suggesting a concomitant increase in the incidence of intimate partner violence (IPV). This study was part of the International Sexual and Reproductive Health (I-SHARE) Consortium, examining IPV and its correlates before and during lockdown in April 2020.

MethodsThis cross-sectional observational study, conducted online during August–September 2020, recruited 259 participants from Singapore who reported having a steady partner. Alongside socio-demographic data before and during COVID-19 lockdown, the respondents self-reported their encounters with partner violence. Partner violence was measured using an adapted six-item version of the WHO IPV scale.

ResultsData revealed an incidence of 17.2%, 25.0%, 16.7%, 17.6%, 17.5% and 18.5% of restriction of contact with others, verbal abuse, restriction of access to finances, physical violence, pressured sex and forced sex, respectively, before COVID-19 lockdown. During lockdown, incidences of these forms of violence were 17.4%, 19.8%, 14.7%, 13.5%, 14.7% and 15.2%, respectively. Multivariable analyses showed that being younger, being non-heterosexual, and having more children and adolescents at home were significantly associated with partner violence both before and during lockdown. Analyses also revealed that being of Chinese ethnicity and having a monthly income above SGD3000 were not significantly correlated to partner violence before lockdown but emerged as significant during lockdown.

ConclusionsSome sociodemographic factors were associated with violence regardless of lockdown, while other factors were exacerbated by lockdown. Interventions should consider these key correlates of partner-based violence, ensuring adequate and appropriate support for vulnerable populations both within and outside of lockdown contexts.

By J Pope

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