‘Cries for Help Are Going to Hit Us Like a Tsunami’: Domestic Abuse – the Other Coronavirus Disease

Walk through any given neighborhood on one of these lockdown nights and you may well hear the sound of couples fighting, their raised voices wafting out into an otherwise quiet night.

Frustrations over being cooped up during the coronavirus lockdown and a lack of control over what’s coming next – compounded by financial worries and stresses of being indoors 24/7 with partners and children – are ingredients that don’t necessarily mesh well. For many, some degree of discord is to be expected.

But for others, this perfect storm of difficult conditions exacerbates and triggers far worse responses.

“The national rhetoric is: ‘Your home is your fortress’; ‘Being home is the best thing’; and ‘Everyone just stay home!’” says Miriam Schler, executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Tel Aviv. “But for a lot of these victims, home is the worst place to be.”

Domestic violence between couples – be it sexual, mental, verbal or physical – is on the rise, as are other kinds of violent and sexual assault in the home (for example, those perpetrated on children by adults).

There may not be daily updates in the newspapers detailing who, where and how many are affected. But for those paying attention to this particular knock-on effect of the lockdown, the picture is clear: Not only are the number of abuse cases going up, but – even more worrying – it seems we are nowhere near the peak.

Psychotherapist Ziv Raz, who does domestic violence training within the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry, puts it bluntly: “When the lockdown eases up, the number of cries for help is going to hit us like a tsunami.”