Stress, Interpersonal Violence and COVID-19

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COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives, including our mental health. Pandemic-related stress may have an even greater impact on people who are already coping with trauma such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or child maltreatment.

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COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives, including our mental health.   

1 in 4 Canadians report improved mental health but:   

  • 4 out of 10 Canadians say they regularly feel stress since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic1
  • 3 out of 4 Canadians are experiencing financial stress due to COVID –19 2
  • 1 out of 3 Canadians are concerned about family stress from confinement3 
  • 1 in 10 women are concerned about violence in their homes COVID19, Mental Health and Gender-based Violence4

Pandemic-related stress may have an even greater impact on people who are already coping with trauma such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence or child maltreatment.  Even without a pandemic: 

  • Women who experience intimate partner violence are twice as likely to experience depression5
  • 1 in 6 sexual assault victims experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder6 
  • 1 in 6 children who experience maltreatment cope with depression/anxiety/withdrawal.7

We invite you to consider these strategies if you are experiencing the impacts

of violence and pandemic related stress: 

  1. Try to maintain a daily routine:Do tasks that have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end.  
  2. Recognize where and when you have the power to choose: Consider choices you can make in your daily routines, self-care activities (bath, shower), and the media coverage you expose yourself to.  
  3. Build-in activities to help you stay in the present: Stay grounded with mindfulness exercises such as yoga.
  4. Stay active to help reduce stress:Move often, stretch, dance, go for walks or jog.  
  5. Connect with others for a sense of community: Find ways to connect regularly and from a physical distance with those who are important to you through texting, emails, phone calls or video chat. 
  6. Try to maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep: Eat balanced meals regularlyHerbal teas can help promote feelings of warmth and calmness. 
  7. Do something you enjoy every day:Think about what you like to do and make time for these activities (e.g. cooking, reading, gardening, listening to a podcast, reading to your children). 
  8. Know where to find support in the community: Remember that services, such as sexual assault centres, shelters, crisis lines, and hospital emergency rooms are still providing supports even if they are doing it in different ways.  


[1] Mental Health Commission of Canada. (April 2020).  Canadians report an increase in feeling stressed regularly or all the time now compared to one month before COVID-19 (

[2] Dujay, John (March 24, 2020). Almost 3 in 4 Canadians experiencing financial stress due to COVID-19: survey. HR Reporter.

[3] Statistics Canada, (April 8, 2020). Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 1: Impacts on COVID-19.

[4] Statistics Canada, 2020.

[5] World Health Organization. (November 29, 2017). Violence against women. Key facts.

[6] Conroy, S., Cotter, A. (2017). Self-reported sexual assault in Canada, 2014. Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

[7] Fallon, B. et al. (2020). Ontario incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect- 2018. Toronto, ON: Child Welfare Research Portal.