Is COVID-19 Putting You At Risk Of Domestic Violence?

Help For Domestic Violence

Stress, financial strain, sudden changes to daily routines, fear, and real risk of bodily harm…these are all things that are causing many people an overload of anxiety right now. COVID-19 has caused an explosion of fear-based social media and news reports. It can feel difficult to escape. You might feel overwhelmed by the simple task of getting out of bed, much less putting food on the table.

During times like these, our rates of domestic violence tend to skyrocket. In fact, this has already been the case in Central Texas. As the world feel more and more out of control, the need for a sense of power and control within the household increases. For some, this leads to the unhealthy cycle of power and control that we call domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence? What is It Not?

Domestic violence is more than arguments and squabbles, but at the beginning it also doesn’t look like beatings that require hospitalizations. At first, it might look something like this:

You go for a walk in your neighborhood with your partner. It’s a beautiful day and you feel grateful for the love you feel for him/her. You see a neighbor and wave hi. Your partner tenses next to you, grabs your hand, and starts accusing you of being attracted to the neighbor. To the outside world, it looks like you are lovingly holding hands, but it quickly begins to hurt…badly. He/she won’t let go until you say you’re sorry for saying hi and make sure he/she knows you find them attractive.

When you get home, it’s like another person is there. Suddenly, your partner wants to cater to your every desire, showering you with compliments, and reminding you why you belong with him/her. You start to question whether the incident with the hand squeezing even happened and it’s very easy to just avoid saying hi to the neighbor in exchange for this kind wonderfulness at home. Right?

What is the Cycle Of Power and Control?

In the example above, we see the cycle play out. 1) Honeymoon Phase: You’re out for a walk with your partner and everything feels right. 2) Tension Building Phase: Your partner accuses you of being attracted to the neighbor. 3) Explosion Phase: Squeezing your hand to pain. 4) I’m Sorry Phase: The return home. And the cycle returns then to the Honeymoon Phase. And so on.

This is an early stages example of domestic violence. But the problem with domestic violence cycles is that it continues to progress. Very quickly, things can move from a sore hand to a broken arm or worse. Sex is often used as weapon, as well as breaking or threatening harm to favorite items, pets, children, etc… And every time you accept a limit set (ie. you just won’t say hi to the neighbor), you become more isolated and entrenched in the power and control cycle.

How Do You Break The Cycle?

Breaking the cycle of abuse is easier done when it first gets started. It’s like getting a train to stop. This can happen pretty quickly if the train is just getting started. But if the train is going full speed, it doesn’t matter how much you might want to stop or how hard you pull on the brakes. It’s just going to take a certain amount of time for the train to stop. Plus, stopping quickly can cause the entire train to come off the rails.

So, the earlier you realize you are in a domestic violence relationship, the easier it is to leave. If the domestic violence cycle has already been well-established in your relationship (ie. you are highly socially/financially isolated and/or significant physical or sexual violence has already occurred), it can be dangerous to leave. We recommend getting help from a domestic violence hotline (see below) or shelter. In the Austin area, you can reach out to SAFE Alliance or in Williamson County, call HOPE Alliance.

If things are just starting to move in the power and control direction, then leaving might be easier and less dangerous. Reach out to your family and friends for help. Seek professional help. Be safe. Be bold.

How Can I Get Help?

If you or someone you know are a victim of domestic violence and need help, call 1-800-799-7233 or visit today.

If you are in Texas and are worried you might be guilty of falling into the power and control cycle, get non-judgmental help today at LifeWorks through their Resolution Counseling Program at

And if you have experienced these dynamics in the past and want help working through that pain, we have specialized therapists ready to help you heal trauma so you can start building healthy, happy relationships you can trust. Find out more at:


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