Monday, October 19, 2020

Domestic violence up in rural America during pandemic

"Preliminary research from radiologists and anecdotal information from those who work with domestic violence victims show that across the board, incidents of domestic violence in rural America are up," Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder. "Researchers at the Southwest Rural Health Education Research Center found that the prevalence of domestic violence-related emergency department visits among women in rural settings was higher than in non-rural settings in all regions of the country except the Midwest." From 2009 through 2014, 15.5 rural women out of every 100,000 visited an emergency room because of a domestic violence incident, compared to 11.9 urban women out of 100,000.

Health officials and advocates have been concerned that the pandemic would worsen domestic violence and make it more difficult for victims to get help. "Trapped alone with their abusers, women faced the prospect of higher tension, lower income, and increased substance use – triggers for domestic violence. At the same time, it was harder for women to reach out for help because of barriers like lack of transportation and independent income," Carey reports.

That's especially true for women in rural areas, who are more isolated and have less access to medical services. Also, one shelter worker noted, many rural women in her area tended not to seek help even before the pandemic. She speculated that their more conservative culture and religious norms might discourage them from reaching out, Carey reports.

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