Prevalence and correlates of fearing a partner during the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain: findings from Natsal-COVID

Willis, M. et al. (2023) Prevalence and correlates of fearing a partner during the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain: findings from Natsal-COVID. Journal of Family Violence, (doi: 10.1007/s10896-023-00665-w) (Early Online Publication)

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Purpose The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions introduced personal and relationship stressors that potentially increased the risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) for some. We estimated the population prevalence and correlates of fearing a partner in the first year of the pandemic in Britain. Method We used data from Natsal-COVID Wave 2—a web-panel survey undertaken one year after the initial British lockdown from 23 March 2020. Quotas and weighting were used to achieve a quasi-representative sample of the general population. Participants were asked about fearing a partner, which is a simple and valid screening tool to identify IPV experiences. Results In our sample (unweighted n = 6302, aged 18–59), 9.0% of women and 8.7% of men reported fearing a partner in the first year of the pandemic. Women (73.3%) were more likely than men (49.9%) to indicate that fearing a partner made them feel anxious or depressed; men were more likely to report increased substance use (30.8% vs. 18.4%) and affected work/studies (30.0% vs. 20.0%). For both women and men, fearing a partner during the first year of the pandemic was associated with established health and wellbeing outcomes like anxiety/depression, alcohol use, accessing sexual/reproductive health services, and relationship dissolution as well as feeling that the “pandemic made things worse” across various life domains. Conclusions Population-level estimates of IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic highlight harmful experiences that occurred alongside other wide-ranging hardships, and the associations presented identify key populations with potential ongoing need. We make recommendations for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of IPV.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: The Natsal Resource, which is supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust (212,931/Z/18/Z), with contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), supports the Natsal-COVID Study in addition to funding from the UCL COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (Core funding, MC_UU_00022/3; SPHSU18).
Keywords:Intimate partner violence, fearing partner, domestic abuse, COVID-19, pandemic, cross-sectional survey.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Willis, Dr Malachi and Baxter, Dr Andy and Mitchell, Professor Kirstin and Boso Perez, Ms Raquel and Riddell, Miss Julie
Authors: Willis, M., Tanton, C., Conolly, A., Baxter, A. J., Bosó Pérez, R., Riddell, J., Dema, E., Copas, A. J., Macdowall, W., Bonell, C., Mercer, C. H., Sonnenberg, P., Field, N., and Mitchell, K. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Family Violence
ISSN (Online):1573-2851
Published Online:24 November 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright: © The Author(s) 2023
First Published:First published in Journal of Family Violence 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence
Data DOI:10.5255/UKDA-SN-8865-2

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048230031Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048230081Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU18HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit