When staying home isn’t safe: Australian practitioner experiences of responding to intimate partner violence during COVID-19 restrictions

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Times of crisis are associated with increased violence against women, often with reduced access to support services. COVID-19 is no exception with public health control measures restricting people’s movements and confining many women and children to homes with their abusers. Recognising the safety risks posed by lockdowns the United Nations declared violence against women ‘the shadow pandemic’ in April 2020. In the Australian state of Victoria, residents spent over a third of 2020 in strict lockdown. Based on an online survey of 166 Victorian practitioners between April and May 2020 using rating scales and open-ended questions, our study revealed that women’s experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) intensified during lockdown. COVID-19 restrictions created new barriers to help-seeking and necessitated the rapid transition to remote service delivery models during a time of heightened risk. This article provides insights into how practitioners innovated and adapted their practices to provide continued support during a high demand. Our study exposed the significant toll responding to IPV during the pandemic is having on practitioners. We explore the impact of remote service delivery on practitioner mental health and wellbeing and the quality of care provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-314
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Gender-Based Violence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • innovation
  • intimate partner violence
  • pandemic
  • shadow pandemic

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