Council of Europe Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic Buric has vigorously warned of an increase in domestic violence during exit restrictions due to the coronavirus. Reports from the member countries of the past few weeks have already shown that children and women are now at greater risk of abuse within their own four walls, said Pejcinovic Buric. In addition to the increased risk of violence, the effects of the coronavirus crisis could also hit women economically and threaten their financial independence.
Reports from France showed that many women were unable to call 911 because of the restrictions, the secretary-general said. The help phone numbers received about four times fewer cells than normal. Instead, instant messages on the Internet to relevant aid organizations across Europe have increased. That could mean that perpetrators prevent their victims from seeking help by phone, said Pejcinovic Buric. In Denmark, it has been observed that the number of women seeking refuge in a women’s shelter has increased, said the Secretary-General.
The abuse commissioner of the federal government, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, also fears an increase in domestic and sexual violence, especially against children, because of the corona crisis. The current pressure significantly endangers the wellbeing of children through their own family members, Rorig told the RBB-Inforadio. This affects violence at home but also in children who are already exposed to sexual violence in the family. “Their situation is exacerbated because school and leisure time are not available as a means of escape,” warned the abuse officer.
Seek professional advice if you are suspected
The perpetrators can now “exercise their perfidious violence even more unnoticed by the social environment,” said Rorig. It is therefore particularly tragic that the youth welfare offices can only work on a back burner or in an emergency operation.
“Social control is not there at the moment,” said Saskia Etzolde, vice-chief of the Berlin violence protection clinic. “The area in which domestic violence against children is otherwise noticeable, ie in schools, daycare centers or in childminders, has just disappeared.”
Federal abuse commissioner Rorig advises those who suspect violence or sexual abuse in the family should not approach neighbors directly but seek professional advice directly. These are youth welfare offices, the police or any other advisory services. Helpful tips and telephone numbers have been put together on the website of the commissioner for questions of sexual abuse.