Domestic violence is defined broadly as: “all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence” that may be committed by a family member or intimate partner. It is also named as ‘domestic abuse’ or ‘family violence’ (1). Besides, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as: “the intentional use of power or force, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community, which either results in or has a likelihood of resulting in, injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation”. Based on this definition WHO separates violence into three broad groups, named, self-directed violence; interpersonal violence; and collective violence. Self-directed violence includes suicidal behaviour (i.e., suicidal ideation, plans, attempted suicide, and suicide). Interpersonal violence by itself divides into two categories, i.e., family and intimate partner violence (e.g., child abuse, violence by an intimate partner, and abuse of the elderly) and community violence (e.g., youth violence, rape or sexual assault by strangers and violence in institutional settings). Collective violence includes wars and armed conflicts within or between states, genocide, and terrorism (2).
It is well known that violence has probably always been part of the human experience and its impact can be seen, in various forms, in all parts of the world. All types of violence are related to human distress and disastrous. Natural disasters including pandemic might increase the rate of violence both in the short and long-term in a number of ways (3). Domestic violence is the most common form of violence against children, women, and elderly persons. It affects the victims up to the life span, from self-selective to forced suicide and abuse, and is evident, to some degree, in every society in the world. There is a huge body of research showing the lasting effects of domestic violence on victims which includes; mental health problems and chronic illnesses (4). There is also evidence which shows, in one year, approximately 300 million women aged 15–64 are assaulted by an intimate partner: that is every ninth woman in the world, every year (5). There is increasing recognition internationally that intimate partner violence is a common problem with serious health, social and economic consequences for women, their families, and communities (6).
Domestic violence is now viewed as global public health and clinical problem of epidemic proportions. For women and girls, being subjected to violence is associated with: injury, disability, death, induced abortion, low birth weight and prematurity in women’s babies, poor sexual health, suicide, depression, anxiety, and harmful alcohol use (7). In the middles of disaster; be it a natural disaster or disease outbreak, the physical and social environments that shape the health and health problems will disrupt. Therefore, the effects of disasters are likely to increase in individuals, families, and communities’ vulnerability to violence and effects can have both an immediate and long-term impact on violence (8). Furthermore, due to the scarcity of basic provisions, failure of law enforcement, powerlessness, aggravation caused by a deceitful bureaucracy, and forgotten governments’ potentials to help victims, etc. It would be possible that the mental distresses will develop into violence, either self-directed or interpersonal (9). Likewise, studies recently conducted, revealed that interpersonal violence increases during epidemics, like the Ebola virus in West Africa and currently COVID 19 pandemics, globally (10),(11).
There is an evidence showing domestic violence reports often substantially increase after a catastrophic event (12). While the depth and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic are still uncertain, it is clear that households in affected areas will feel some economic shock—with the largest effects among the population of already economically vulnerable. In line with this, women, in particular, may be disproportionately affected by additional unpaid care (caretaking and caregiving) work, which may further decrease the ability to undertake paid work (13). Furthermore, there is a high likelihood of increases in family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic (14). Disruption of family life has a significant effect on children, including poverty (if divorce or separation occurs) and a loss of faith and trust in the association of the family. These squeals not only affect the quality of lives of individuals and societies but also have lasting effects on community order and unity. This could be shown by increased interpersonal violence during crises and times of unrest like pandemics (15). However, there are limited rigorous studies estimated an increase in reporting of violence during or post-pandemic though media reports and anecdotal evidence are widespread (16).
Violence and its impact could be preventable in the same way public health efforts have prevented, and reduced pregnancy-related complications, infectious diseases, and many other injuries all over the world. However, there are obstacles that hinder the system not to be effective, including a lack of accurate data on the magnitude and its determinants (17). Therefore, given the alarming increase of natural disasters including pandemics during the recent decades, it is time to design and conduct more methodological sound studies (18),(19).
A preliminary search of PROSPERO, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports was conducted and no current or underway systematic reviews on the topic were identified.