One of the terrible effects of COVID-19 is that it has led to a growth in reported cases of domestic violence. Shelters in Canada are reporting growing needs. In France, there are reports that gender based-violence has increased by a shocking 36%. In British Columbia, the Battered Women’s Support Services organization has reported a 300% increase in calls to their crisis line!
Working at home, self-isolation, COVID-19, stress, and job loss have left many victims and their children in unsafe conditions.
Status of Women Canada states “ Gender based violence disproportionately impacts women and girls, as well as other diverse populations such as Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQI2+ and gender non-binary individuals, those living in northern, rural, and remote communities, people with disabilities, newcomers, children and youth, and seniors.”
There are situations where women, forced to self-isolate or shelter in place with their abusers, experience potentially dangerous situations. Self-isolation gives more power to the abusive person. Shelters are full and reduced public transit or taxi services, where they exist, makes it harder to leave safely.
Violence is an expression of insecurity and power. Abuse can take different forms; things like constant belittling or criticism. It can be physical or sexual. It could be using economic pressure or using one’s children against you. It could include forced coercion or isolation. It may or may not be all of these things. Any one of them are grounds for abuse.
It can seem there is nowhere to turn and one remains trapped in a horrible cycle of helplessness and fear with no way out. You are not alone. There is hope and there is help. Those who run shelters want you to know you can reach out and find a safe place of support.
Your social steward is also there to help and will respect confidentiality.
We have provided a list of phone numbers where there is support and advice for anyone that needs it.
If you, or someone you know are in immediate danger call 911.
Family Violence Info Line – Toll-free, 24/7, Multilingual: 780-310-1818;
Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters: 1-866-331-3933; http://www.acws.ca/
24 Hour Crisis and Abuse Line: 1-800-214-7083;
Abused Women's Crisis Line: 1-888-338-0880
Province-wide Family Violence Helpline – toll-free, 24/7: 1-877-977-0007;
Assaulted Women's Helpline – 24/7, province-wide in more than 100 different languages including 17 Aboriginal languages.
Call: 1-866-863-0511; TTY 1-866-863-7868; Rogers, Fido, Bell and Telus: Text : #SAFE (#7233)
Fem'aide: toll-free, province-wide, safety planning and referrals: 1-877-336-2433;
Native Women's Association - Talk4Healing - 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)
New Brunswick Directory of Services for Victims of Abuse
Online: Transition House Association of Nova Scotia – http://thans.ca/
The Nova Scotia Domestic Violence Resource Centre – https://nsdomesticviolence.ca/
National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence –
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NACAFV
Newfoundland & Labrador
Victim Link BC 24/7 help line providing crisis support in 130 languages (also covers Yukon):
Call: 1-800-563-0808, TTY 604-875-0885, Text 604-836-6381
NWT Family Violence Shelters 24 hour Crisis Line – toll free (no TTY compatibility)
Call: 1-866-223-7775; (867) 873-8257 in Yellowknife
If you are concerned about yourself or a friend who may be facing gender-based violence choose a code word that you can text, email or phone to your friend. For example, decide with a friend that the word tomato is your code word. When you text that word to your friend, they will know that you are in trouble.
During this time of COVID-19, we want everyone to be safe. This includes safety in your house.