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Professionals' views on working in the field of domestic violence and abuse during the first wave of COVID-19: a qualitative study in the Netherlands.

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    • Abstract:
      Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown evoked great worries among professionals in the field of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) as they expected a rise of the phenomenon. While many countries reported increased DVA, the Netherlands did not. To understand this discrepancy and the overall impact of the lockdown on DVA support services, we interviewed DVA professionals about their experiences with DVA during the rise of COVID-19, the impact of the lockdown on clients and working conditions, and views on eHealth and online tools.Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted among 16 DVA professionals with various specializations. This data was analyzed using open thematic coding and content analysis.Results: Most professionals did not see an increase in DVA reports but they did notice more severe violence. They experienced less opportunities to detect DVA and worried about their clients' wellbeing and the quality of (online) care. Furthermore, their working conditions rapidly changed, with working from home and online, and they expressed frustration, insecurity and loneliness. Professionals feel eHealth and online tools are not always suitable but they do see them as an opportunity to increase reach and maintain services when physical contact is not possible.Conclusion: This study suggests DVA was probably under-detected during the lockdown rather than not having increased. The Dutch system heavily relies on professionals to detect and report DVA, suggesting a need for critical evaluation of the accessibility of professional help. Professionals experienced significant challenges and should themselves be supported psychologically and in their changed work practices to maintain their ability to aid survivors. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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