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By on May 17, 2021

New Research: Californians report increase in violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

New research confirms what advocates, preventionists, and communities have been expressing concerns about: that sexual and intimate partner violence is increasing during COVID-19, and is disproportionately impacting marginalized communities. Researchers from the University of California San Diego and University of Chicago’s NORC research organization interviewed over 2,000 Californians in March 2020 and March 2021 and found the following during this one-year span of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 19% of respondents report an increase in violence in their community
  • 15% report more partner violence against women
  • 11% report escalating family violence against children
  • 35% report more substance abuse in their community
  • 3% report an increase in online sexual harassment
  • 3% report an increase in physical violence, including threats with a weapon
  • Researchers also report that Latinx and Asian Californians “are especially likely to witness this increased violence in their communities.”

illustration of several people looking left and right, wearing masksWhile these findings are specific to California, one can assume that this isn’t just an issue in California, as people across the country and world have expressed concerns about increases in sexual and intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, while there may be a misconception that non-partner sexual violence can’t happen during a time of physical distancing, the inclusion of online sexual harassment in this report dispels that myth and asserts that online expressions of violence should be taken seriously, too. This is in line with the recent theme of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2021 about preventing sexual violence in online spaces.

Research like this is important not just to affirm what communities have been reporting since March 2020, but also calls attention to the need for sustained, supported prevention efforts during times of crisis and disaster, too. The links and resources below are just a sample of how preventionists have adapted to the pandemic and have made impacts in preventing sexual and intimate partner violence in their communities.

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