Droves of women are reporting first-time family violence in Australian research showing COVID-19 lockdown as a flashpoint for abuse.
The Monash University study released on Monday found an increase in the frequency and severity of violence against women in Victoria during coronavirus lockdowns.
Almost 170 Victorian practitioners who have spent the past two months supporting women experiencing violence, contributed.
First-time family violence reporting by women rose by 42 per cent, the study found.
Fifty-nine per cent of respondents reported COVID-19 had increased the frequency of violence against women, while half reported the severity of abuse had increased amid virus lockdown measures.
Some perpetrators allegedly weaponised the virus, spreading rumours that women had COVID-19 so nobody would come near them to help.
Project lead Naomi Pfitzner said the study justified fears family violence would increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perpetrators are using COVID-19 restrictions and the threat of infection to gain access to women and children and control their movements.Dr Naomi Pfitzner
While Victoria's pandemic control measures have been necessary from a public health perspective, Dr Pfitzner said they "inadvertently compounded barriers to help-seeking for women".
The report is part of a wider project into the effects of the COVID-19 rules on the City of Melbourne, to improve liveability towards 2050.
- Australian Associated Press
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