A new study from the Trauma Imaging Research and Innovation Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that the number of intimate partner violence (IPV) injuries has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the number of IPV cases is lower than previous years.

The researchers identified a total of 62 IPV victims who were subject to both physical and emotional abuse in 2020. In previous years, those figures were significantly higher: 104 in 2019 and 106 in 2018. The researchers consider the low number of cases to be due to the fact that victims might be too afraid to report the abuse. However, the number of patients who had sustained physical abuse in the spring of 2020 was 26, compared to 20 in 2019, 7 in 2019, and 15 in 2017.

The number of severe physical abuse cases was much higher than preceding years. They found five cases in 2020, whereas in the past three years there was only one case during each of those years. This year, the number of deep injuries, such as knife wounds, strangulation, burns, or injuries inflicted using other weapons totaled 28. In 2019, 2018, and 2017, there were a total of 28 deep injuries.

“Radiologists and other health care providers should proactively participate in identifying IPV victims and reach out to vulnerable communities as an essential service during the pandemic and other crisis situations,” wrote study author Bharti Khurana, MD, director of Trauma Imaging Research and Innovation Center.