Reporting to police by intimate partner violence victim-survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Publication Name

Journal of Criminology


There is evidence from around the world that rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) recorded by police have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not all studies or data sources have shown a consistent increase, and it is not clear how these observed trends may have been influenced by changes in the propensity of victim-survivors to contact police during the pandemic. We use data from a large survey of women in Australia drawn from a national online research panel to examine correlates of police reporting and barriers to help-seeking among a subset of respondents who had experienced physical or sexual IPV during the period of the first national lockdown. Victim-survivors were less likely to have contacted police following the most recent incident if the time spent at home with their partner had increased. They were also more likely to say they were unable to safely seek advice or support on at least one occasion. Police were more likely to be contacted by the victim-survivor if they or their partner had lost their job or taken a pay cut, but there was no relationship with changes in financial stress. Results suggest containment measures introduced in response to COVID-19 may have influenced help-seeking behavior among IPV victim-survivors. This needs to be considered when conducting or interpreting studies on the impact of the pandemic on IPV using police data. Proactive responses to support IPV victim-survivors are needed during current and future restrictions and periods of reduced mobility.

Open Access Status

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