Has domestic violence risen during the COVID-19 pandemic? This is a question on the minds of many researchers. Early indications suggest that it has. And with the pandemic not yet over, we anticipate that domestic violence allegations will continue to run ahead of where they were pre-pandemic.
According to one research paper, domestic violence against women increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as governments around the country responded by issuing lockdown orders. A shelter in Manitoba called domestic violence and sexual assault “shadow pandemics.” With no exit, many couples began squabbling, which allegedly led to an uptick in divorce in Canada.
Alcohol abuse has been another problem during the pandemic. According to Hopkins Medicine, being cooped up in a home can lead to an increase in alcohol consumption. Someone who is intoxicated is more likely to strike out in anger when fighting.
At N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation, we received many calls from people accused of domestic violence during the pandemic. These cases raise complicated legal issues for our clients, which we walk through below.
False Allegations are More Likely During a Pandemic
Just as lockdowns can lead to more violence between family members, lockdowns can also contribute to more false allegations. In our experience, false allegations are often made when couples are fighting. Tensions rise and one spouse makes a frivolous accusation of the other—perhaps with the hope of getting him or her kicked out of the house.
Another trigger for false allegations is divorce. When one spouse files for divorce, suddenly an allegation of domestic violence is made because one person hopes to gain strategic advantage. In particular, one parent hopes to get custody of the children by accusing the other of violence.
At our firm, we don’t automatically assume an accusation is true. Instead, we listen to clients describe what happened.
Being Kicked Out of Your Home is Difficult
The pandemic has frozen business activity from coast to coast, with many workers still stuck at home. It has also pinched the housing market. If you are kicked out of your home due to a domestic violence allegation, then finding a place to stay could be a tall challenge.
British Columbia responded to the pandemic by freezing evictions—a reasonable choice to protect those currently housed. But the ban has had the predictable effect of limiting the number of new apartments that came onto the market. Someone needing a place to stay, therefore, has had fewer options to choose from.
Contacting an Attorney is Essential
Responding to domestic violence allegations is complex during even normal times. But COVID has added an extra layer of difficulty.
For example, to fight a restraining order, your attorney might need to interview witnesses and visit your home. The pandemic has made that more difficult. Many people are hesitant to visit a lawyer’s office for an interview. And the pandemic gives your partner one more reason to try and block your lawyer’s admission into your home.
If you are facing domestic violence allegations, contact our office today.