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COVID-19 pandemic may increase intimate partner aggression, suggests study

COVID-19 pandemic may increase intimate partner aggression, suggests study

October 12, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic may increase intimate partner aggression, suggests study

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It has been close to two years since the COVID-19 emerged as one of the most devastating pandemics in the history of mankind. However, it refuses to abate and is still crippling lives across the globe. Every now and then, researchers are coming up with new hazards of the pandemic on the physical and mental health of people.

One such effect that has come to the forefront in intimate partner aggression. According to a recent study conducted by the Georgia State University researchers, a significant increase in the prevalence of physical and emotional aggression among partners was recorded during the second wave of the pandemic. This aggression was fueled by the lockdown restrictions placed because of the pandemic. The study was published in the Psychology of Violence and is the first to document intimate partner aggression as a result of the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic.

Pandemic caused 7-fold increase in partner aggression

The study reported a six-to-eight-fold spike in the incidence of intimate partner aggression among U.S. couples after the onset of the pandemic. Physical aggression in particular grew from two acts per year to 15 acts per year after the implementation of the shelter-in-place restrictions. Similarly, psychological aggression witnessed a five-fold growth, increasing to 96 acts from 16 acts per year.

“If you think about it, that [increase] represents an enormous shift in people’s day-to-day lives,” said Dominic Parrott, Director of the Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence. “It’s the difference between having a bad fight with your partner once a month versus twice a week.”

The findings were based on the responses of 510 participants, who were recruited in April 2020 when shelter-in-place restrictions were at peak across the U.S. The participants were asked if COVID-19-related stress led to physical and emotional aggression towards their partner and heavy drinking, a known facilitator of aggression. They were also quizzed about COVID-19 stressors.

As suggested by Parrott, people were suddenly exposed to enormous stress, which in turn contributed to aggression and violence among partners. Referring to the findings, the researcher linked the increase in intimate partner violence in couples living in close proximity. The results were similar to previous studies which confirmed that living in close proximity after natural disasters increased incidences of physical and psychological aggression. The researchers wanted to document what was happening as a result of the pandemic.

While heavy drinkers reported higher incidence of intimate partner aggression, non-heavy drinkers were found to be the most affected by COVID-related stress. “People who aren’t heavy drinkers may be able to prevent stress from affecting their relationships under normal circumstances, but we hypothesized that the extreme events of the pandemic might change that. And that’s how the data played out,” added Parrott.

Dealing with intimate partner aggression

Intimate Partner Violence is a debilitating experience for the victim. It is associated with the development of serious mental health problems, including anxiety, suicidal ideation, phobias, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, it is important to address the problem before it leads to serious consequences.

When it comes to dealing with partner aggression and violence, both the aggressive partner and the victim need treatment comprising rehabilitation, counseling and psychotherapy. Victims, in particular, require specialized care and attention. The three areas that need to be addressed in victims of intimate partner aggression are safety of the victim, assurance that they are believed, and identifying the best treatment or a combination of treatments that work for the victim.

If you or someone you know is experiencing partner aggression and/or violence, California Behavioral Healthcare can help you. We offer personalized detox and rehabilitation center for people dealing with intimate partner aggression. Our advance and evidence-based programs ensure that each and every patient receives treatment that is unique and customized to suit their needs and requirements. For further information, call our helpline (919) 260-2807 and speak to a representative. Alternatively, you can chat online to further assistance.

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