While the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical need for swift action in tackling public health crises, we have been sluggish in applying this lesson to address the escalating domestic violence epidemic. During the pandemic, incidents of domestic violence surged by more than 30%.
Discussion about what to do in response to domestic violence incidents has mostly focused on what specific programs or services can be most helpful in supporting survivors or preventing future violence. For example, the United States’ first National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, recently released by the Biden administration, proposes a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to ending gender-based violence, including domestic violence. But at least as important is how to connect people to these services, including — crucially — when to make the connection.