Doctor warns against making 'rash decisions' under coronavirus lockdown as divorce rates spike

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Dr. Jessica Griffin, the executive director of UMASS Medical School's Child Trauma Training Center, joined "Outnumbered Overtime" host Harris Faulkner Wednesday to discuss the recent uptick in domestic violence cases and surging divorce rates as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing these huge increases and historically ... when we look at unemployment rates increasing, domestic violence rates go along with that," Griffin explained on "America Copes Together: A Virtual Town Hall."

Authorities around the world have reported rising cases of abuse as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Griffin explained that spike could be attributed to higher rates of substance use and the added stress of being stuck at home.

"Part of it right now is, we heard a lot about anxiety and everyone sort of idling a little higher than normal ... all of us are, and so for people who have that added stress [and] you throw substance use in the mix ... you’re likely to see increased conflict in general when we’re all stuck in the same homes and not able to leave and don’t have our same social connections," she said, "so it’s the perfect storm of all of those factors that tend to lead to violence."

Addressing the strain that living in confined quarters can have on relationships, Griffin cautioned viewers against making any "rash decisions" until the lockdowns are lifted and normal life resumes.

"This is a really tough question," Griffin said when asked by a viewer for advice on ending a relationship while quarantined with their partner.

"It really depends on when you made the decision to separate," she said. "If you made the decision in the midst of the pandemic, I would suggest that you hold off on that and avoid making any rash decisions about your relationship or any significant matters until we are out of the woods on this."

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Griffin continued, "It’s harder to utilize good problem solving and decision making  when we're at this heightened state of stress that we’re all experiencing."

Divorce attorneys have also reported an uptick in inquiries from couples about heading to Splitsville and anticipate more people will file for divorce as courts reopen.

"If you were contemplating separation or divorce before the pandemic hit, then I would strongly suggest talking with a professional over telehealth," Griffin said, "and they could advise you how to set better boundaries in the home and how to really navigate that tough situation."

Fox Business' Jeanette Settembre contributed to this report.