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COVID-19: Outreach to Domestic Abuse Victims in Times of Quarantine

London School of Economics
United Kingdom
Key Focus of Study
Domestic abuse (DA) is an extensive social problem, marked by high levels of repeat victimization and underreporting. Domestic violence reported to the police has risen since the beginning of quarantine, yet there is concern that actual incidents have risen even more, since underreporting may have increased. When the victim and abuser are quarantined together, calling the police may pose great risk to the victim’s safety. We will consider whether it is possible to reach isolated DA victims by non-traditional means, and if by providing them a safer means of contacting police, DA reporting increases. We also seek to determine whether contacting police during quarantine will influence recidivism in the future. We propose to work with two police forces to reach potential high-risk DA victims by means of a targeted two-month social media campaign. The goal of the campaign is to inform potential victims about the Silent Solution, a safer means of reporting to police. Potential high-risk victims will be identified from police administrative records using machine learning methods. We will take two different approaches to targeting. In each case, half of the high-risk group will be randomly assigned to treatment status (receiving targeted social media messages) and half to control (only ambient messaging). We will compare the treatment and control groups to measure how the media campaigns affect current reporting and future recidivism. If the approach proves effective, it has the potential to increase reporting, and inform the allocation of protective resources, both during and after quarantine.
Key Stakeholders
Domestic abuse victims
Funding Institution(s)
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