Domestic violence in Belgium in times of corona

 (Image: Pixabay  CC0)

(Image: Pixabay CC0)

Corona measures such as staying at home and keeping your distance cause tension and stress, which can increase the risk of aggression. Ghent University experts also fear an increase in domestic violence and an exacerbation of health problems.

Will the corona crisis also become a domestic violence crisis?

Stress and feelings of powerlessness are often at the root of domestic violence. The corona crisis and the current lockdown reinforce such emotions. A significant increase in partner violence and violence within families has been reported in countries where extensive social distancing measures were or are implemented and staying at home was or is mandatory.

In China, family violence was three times as high during lockdown than before. In France, physical and sexual violence increased by more than 35%. Official figures are still lacking for Belgium, but experts expect a similar trend. Ghent University, therefore, wants to map the extent of domestic violence and the specific bottlenecks in the search for help during lockdown.

Experts notice first signs

Experts fear the impact that the lockdown will bring with regards to helping victims. Under normal circumstances, victims are already reluctant to seek help. They often experience feelings of shame and guilt and find it difficult to tell their story. A lack of help and support can cause serious health problems.

Due to the corona measures, assistance for victims is much more difficult or no longer accessible at all. Online help such as Tele-Onthaal, Awel, Nupraatikerover and the Chatline after sexual assault have, however, noticed an increase of calls concerning domestic violence. It is therefore important to continue to provide adapted assistance during lockdown. Ghent University aims to assess whether victims manage to get the help they need during this crisis. With this information they want to inform politicians and health care providers so they can work together to curb the development of health problems linked to experiencing aggression during lockdown.

Participate in Ghent University research, help victims and inform the government

The consequences of domestic violence are not limited to the lockdown period, and have an impact on society as a whole. It is important to gain insight into the true extent of domestic violence both during and after lockdown. Ghent University is therefore conducting a national population survey regarding domestic violence. In order to guarantee reliable figures, it is important that as many people as possible participate in the study, regardless of whether they experienced domestic violence themselves. After all, only by also questioning non-victims can we determine the impact of sexual violence on society. By participating, all inhabitants of Belgium can contribute to the development of adapted assistance for victims of domestic violence and provide clear information for the government.

Participation in the study is easy and takes no more than 15 minutes.

Fill in the questionnaire

  • Tele-Onthaal 106
  • Awel Jongerentelefoon 102
  • Zelfmoordlijn / Suicideline 1813
  • Chatline after sexual assault:
  • Care Centers for Sexual Violence remain open during lockdown
  • Helpline for questions about violence 1712

Department of Criminology, Penal Law and Social Law

M +32 (0)498 62 90 53

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