In a California statewide survey sponsored by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, 1918 adults were asked about the impact COVID-19 had on their personal lives.  Some of the findings around domestic violence according to PerryUndem, a non-partisan public opinion research firm, is 9 in 10 Californians feel domestic violence is a serious problem and two-thirds consider domestic violence to be a public issue that should be addressed by all of us. Also, the study found most Californians have a broad understanding of domestic violence and are aware it includes not just physical, sexual, emotional but also mental and financial control, threats of sharing private information on social media, and attempts to control the reproductive health of a partner to be part of domestic violence. More than one-quarter of Californians report they have witnessed or experienced domestic violence as a child; these experiences matter, and it appears the trauma is passed on.

The result from the study showed eight in ten Californians support alternatives to jail for those who cause domestic violence. This includes counseling, supervision by a social worker, or restitution to the person who experienced the violence. This idea has support across political parties in California. Moreover, over 90% of those surveyed support childcare, food, housing, and transportation assistance to help those who have experienced domestic violence. Eight in ten support paid leave from work and cash assistance. Forty-five percent had direct and personal experience with domestic violence, and when asked if a friend or family had experienced domestic violence, thirty-eight percent responded ‘yes’. Fifty-six percent of victims

felt shame about their situation. Four in ten say they have felt afraid to tell others about their experience and only one in four felt supported by friends or family.

Debbie I. Chang, MPH, President and CEO, of the Blue Shield of California Foundation explains: “Our mission is to build lasting and equitable solutions. This survey gives a voice for people in the most vulnerable and people of color, so we can listen and get their point on view on health inequities, racism and domestic violence. Domestic violence has a lot of different factors that lead to it, but we know we need to get to the root causes in order to break the cycle. We commissioned PerryUndem Research Center to have a deeper understanding and get their views and experiences. The survey was taken by over 2000 people and we intentionally over sampled Latinx, Asian Americans, the Black community and other communities of color and LGBTQ+ communities.”

Richard Vezina, a senior program officer at Blue Shield of California Foundation adds: “This type of study in an effort to break the cycle of domestic violence, research shows findings like the one we are going to share today are crucial for crafting programs and policies. We want to get this data out to as many people as possible.”

Naomi Mulligan Kolb, managing director and Senior Vice President at PerryUndem Research comments on the methodology used for the study: “Over four-hundred Latinx individuals were surveyed, along with 428 Asian Americans, 293 LGBTQ+ members, and 423 Black Californians. The survey was offered in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Tagolog. What we got is that people of color are experiencing the worst effects from this pandemic. Forty-three percent of Black Americans say COVID has had a major effect on their lives, including income going down, them or a family member having COVID, using savings to pay bills, and going to work even though they feel unsafe.”

Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs at California Partnership to End Domestic Violence adds: “One of the things we’ve been able to do in the field is intervention and prevention. Moving forward, we know we are looking at a new normal. And that means finding out what these services looks like. All of these things serve to keep us all safer and in a better place.

We want people to look at this data and have people say ‘yes’ that resonates with us. We know the more pressures you have in the home the more risk there is for violence. The most important thing we know domestic violence victims need is a safe housing which is why some are reluctant to leave because they have nowhere to go. Economic security, food security and a safe place to go. We know what the problems are, and we have the solutions. People who are closest to the problem are usually closest to the solution and we want to hear what people need.”