Domestic Abuse Hiding in the Shadows of COVID-19

The effects of quarantining throughout the COVID-19 outbreak aren’t only related to your physical health. Being in close quarters with your family members at all times is an added stressor that makes an impact on your mental health – especially in romantic relationships. Couples starved of social time in isolation are checking in for counseling amidst the global pandemic after spending too much time with their significant partner at home. 

“On a non-pandemic day, couples thrive in spending time working, traveling and doing activities outside of the home meaning they only see each other at home for an average of two and half hours a day,” said Dr. Bates-Duford, CEO and Founder of Family Matters Counseling Group. “This has caused couples living in close proximity to notice things about their partner they had either minimized or discredited. When you are spending an extended amount of time with your partner and he/she has maladaptive coping skills related to challenges this can lead to intense frustration and anger.”

Dr. Bates-Duford is familiar with engaging in family relationships and dysfunctions before the pandemic but noticed in the recent months an uptick in clients searching for relationship counseling. With nearly 20 years of experience in the field, she has earned the distinct designation as a Certified Relationship Specialist with Diplomate Status. She works with stabilizing families, individuals with mental illness, and victims of abuse. 

“I’ve heard it all in the past month – what causes another person to become triggered by their spouse,” said Dr. Bates-Duford. “It can be as small as how that person chews or swallows to a larger problem of marital distress with long-standing issues boiling over due to being so close to one another all the time.”

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 20 percent of all marriages and partnerships encompass physical and emotional abuse – with emotional abuse being more common. The pandemic has negatively impacted many marriages, creating various stressors, including financial vulnerability, health insecurity, unemployment, and the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. 

With a robust domestic abuse background, Dr. Bates-Duford provides counseling that unleashes the frustrations using innovative games that aim to uncover marital and emotional “baggage.” For instance, Dr. Bates-Duford will have couples explore a technique she describes as “what’s on the camel’s back” and have couples explain their baggage and where it stems. “It helps, and the couples can gain an understanding of where their spouse is coming from with certain frustrations,” she said.


About Dr. Bates-Duford Family Matters Counseling Group: Family Matters Counseling Group, PLLC is an organization dedicated to providing high quality, compassionate counseling services to children, adults and couples. We offer a wide variety of therapeutic services to aid children, families, single adults, and couples in managing their most difficult life challenges. We provide individual, group, familial, and relationship counseling. For more information, visit

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