COVID-19: Changing violence in relationships

Covid-19 Activism Downloadables


COVID-19 has not only increased rates of domestic and family violence across the globe, but it has also altered the way people are experiencing violence in intimate partner relationships. And while COVID-19 requires us to practise self-isolation and stay home where/when we can, we know that home is not a safe place for everyone.


Illustration of a smartphone with a green battery in the screen on the left side, and a young, coloured boy calling an emergency line on the phone on the left side

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) has put together a resource here for survivors during COVID-19, which includes information on the ways in which COVID-19 is impacting experiences of family violence, and recommendations to support the safety of victim-survivors.

For example, some of the ways in which perpetrators of family violence may use COVID-19 to further abuse or control victim-survivors as highlighted by DVRCV include:

  • Withholding necessary items such as food, medicine, hand sanitiser or disinfectants.
  • Misinforming you about the pandemic to control or frighten you.
  • Using the pandemic as an excuse to gain total or increased control over the family's finances.
  • Threatening or preventing you and your children from seeking appropriate medical attention if you have symptoms or hiding your Medicare card.
  • Increasing their monitoring and criticism of your parenting, such as blaming you if the children 'misbehave' or are upset.
  • Further isolating you or your children in the home by restricting your movements within the house, forcing you or the children into specific spaces in the house, or disabling your mobility devices.
  • Increasingly monitoring your personal communication devices such as mobile phone, email, online messaging.
  • Using COVID-19 to excuse, blame or justify their abusive and violent behaviour towards you and the children.
  • An ex-partner may also use COVID-19 in their attempt to reconcile or enter/live in your home. They may try to emotionally manipulate you to allow them to stay to 'help' you with the children.
  • Breaching a family violence intervention order.
  • An ex-partner may use COVID-19 to threaten you about isolating the children. This could include using Family Law contact orders to bluff you to allow them in to stay or have contact with the children.
  • Feeling more justified and escalate their isolation tactics.

In collaboration with DVRCV, we’ve created these social media tiles below to spread these messages and support victim-survivors now and always. Please share these widely with your networks.

Thank you to DVRCV for compiling the original post.

Illustration of a smartphone showing a fully charged battery in the screen
Illustration of a young coloured boy calling 000 emergency line

There is never an excuse for violence. The safety of you and your family is paramount. DVRCV has also put together a list of potential recommendations or things to consider to help increase your safety during this global pandemic, including:

  • Have an escape plan. Rehearse getting out, in the dark and with your children. Keep spare keys and important documents where you can access them readily. Have some money stashed away for emergencies.
  • Consistent with their age, instincts and skills, develop safety plans for your children - such as calling for help or getting to a place where they will be safer.
  • If you sense trouble or find yourself in an argument, move to a 'lower risk space': rooms with two exits, fewer things that can be used as weapons and where you can be seen or heard from outside.
  • Teach children how to call emergency services on 000 and to know and recite their home address.
  • Where possible have a charged back-up phone in case you are separated from your primary phone, for example, have a hidden second phone.
  • Create signals and/or code words that will let your children know to get out and go to a pre-arranged place of safety.
  • Create signals that let your neighbours/family members know to create a supportive or defusing presence or call emergency services. For example, a turned-on porch light, drawn shade, or an "I can't come over on Thursday after all" phone call.

For the full list of things to consider to increase your safety, visit DVRCV here.

Illustration of a Black woman holding a pink mug and calling someone close to create safety signals
Illustration of three grey keys in a keychain to be readily access

Please reach out

If you are in immediate danger, please call your local emergency services. In Australia, that’s 000.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please reach out to your local helpline.
In Australia, that’s 1800RESPECT.

If you’re feeling affected by this blog post, please reach out to your local helpline.
In Australia, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, MensLine on 1300 78 99 78 or 1800RESPECT.

Illustration of a brown door, initially closed on the left side but then slightly open to have easy access to a lower risk space
Illustration of a mother sitting on the floor, holding a young girl by her arms and telling her the code words for her to go to their pre-arranged safety place