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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Freyjadis, Founder & CEO

UN Women | The Shadow Pandemic

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Since the pandemic hit in 2020, there has been a significant rise in women seeking shelters to escape abusive partners and relationships. The lockdown has created the Shadow Pandemic, as coined by UN Women.

Fast facts

  • Globally, even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner

  • Emerging data shows an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.

  • Sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women continue to occur on streets, in public spaces and online.

  • Survivors have limited information and awareness about available services and limited access to support services.

  • In some countries, resources and efforts have been diverted from violence against women response to immediate COVID-19 relief.

A common misconception that most people especially women have is that only when physical violence occurs then it counts as an abusive relationship. That couldn't be further from the truth. There are early warning signs.

What are some common signs of abuse?

  • Your partner keeps track of everything you do. They monitor where you are and whom you are with at all times. They prevent or discourage you from seeing friends, family, or going to work or school.

  • You partner insists that you reply right away to their texts, emails, and calls, and demands to know your passwords to social media sites, email, and other accounts.

  • An abusive partner may act jealous, including constantly accusing you of cheating. They may attempt to control how you spend money and your use of medications or birth control. They may make everyday decisions for you, such as what you wear or eat.

  • They may be demeaning. They may put you down by insulting your appearance, intelligence, or interests. They may try to humiliate you in front of others and attempt to destroy your property or things that you care about.

  • An abusive partner may act angry or have a quick or unpredictable temper, so you never know what might cause a problem. They may blame you for their violent outbursts and physically harm or threaten harm to you, themselves, and members of your household, including children or pets.

  • They may hurt you physically, such as hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting. They may use, or threaten to use, a weapon against you.

  • They may be sexually abusive, including rape or other forced sexual activity. They may incorrectly assume that consent for a sex act in the past means that you must participate in the same acts in the future. They may also incorrectly assume that consent for one activity means consent for increased levels of intimacy. For example, an abuser may assume that a kiss should lead to sex every time.

  • An abusive partner may threaten to turn you in to authorities for illegal activity if you report the abuse, or if you resist.


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