Instances of domestic violence increased during the recent economic downturn, a new study suggests.
This pattern was discovered by researchers from three American universities who examined the impact of unemployment and financial hardship on romantic relationships. They found that between 2007 and 2009 there was a noticeable increase in domestic violence against mothers.
Around 5,000 mothers were interviewed four times over a number of years. Some of these interviews took place during the recession and others occurred once the economy began to recover. Each woman was asked a series of questions about how their partners treated them.
In families that suffered financial hardship, the mothers reported more instances of domestic violence at the hands of the men in their lives than their better off peers.
One of the study’s authors, Sara McLanahan, said they also found that “rapid increases in unemployment rates … led to increases in men’s controlling behavior” even if they were not directly affected by it. This indicated that “the fear of hard times was important for these couples”, she claimed.
In 2014, research by relationship advice charity Relate suggested that the recession hit people’s relationships very hard in the UK. Couples who were affected the most by the downturn were eight times more likely to break up than those who were more financially secure.