This study explores how women’s fear is related to violence by a partner during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Data come from a sample of 238 women, attending five anti-violence centres in June–September 2020, 44 per cent were cohabiting and 56 per cent not cohabiting with the perpetrator. A questionnaire administered by the advocates allowed us to collect information about several types of violence and their evolution during the lockdown, the feeling of fear, the impossibility of going out alone and help-seeking strategies.
Most of these women lived with the fear of their aggressor, more often if they cohabited with him, 76 per cent instead of 57 per cent if not. Despite this high prevalence, the main determinants of not going out alone or help-seeking were the intensity of violence and its increase during the lockdown more than the women’s fear, even if the cohabitation status is considered.
Fear strongly impairs the quality of daily life. In the context of this pandemic, it was an addition to the various damages exerted by the violence, coupled for some women with difficult social conditions. Professionals working with these women should consider fear but keep in mind that the factor to suppress is the violence.