The Role of Exposure in Domestic Abuse Victimization: Evidence from the COVID-19 Lockdown
36 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020 Last revised: 28 May 2021
Date Written: May 27, 2021
Preventing a COVID-19 health crisis has had unintended consequences on domestic abuse victimization. Using event methodology and individual level call data, we examine the patterns of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown in Greater London and find that the lockdown changed the nature of reporting and the type of relationship the abuse occurs within. While abuse by current partners as well as family members increased on average by 8.5% and 16.4% respectively over the lockdown period, abuse by ex-partners declined by 9.4%. Moreover, we disentangle the effects of the changes in the incidence and the changes in reporting. We show that all the increase in domestic abuse calls is driven by third party reporting, and this increase is 32% higher in areas with high density where neighbours can overhear the abuse, yet no changes in victim reporting. We also analyse the calls by their reporting times and find that reports of abuse after working hours rose by 10-15% indicating that what we are observing isn’t purely a reporting effect. This suggests that under reporting is present in the lockdown, particularly in households where the abuse cannot be reported by a neighbour, and emphasizes community reporting. These findings allow us to draw insights into the importance of environmental factors, such as exposure, in affecting domestic abuse victimization across different types of relationships.
Keywords: Domestic Abuse, COVID-19, Reporting, Crime
JEL Classification: J12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation