The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cease a rising tide of experiences of home violence, consultants say, warning that the stress of life in lockdown continues to put victims in danger.
Canada’s Assaulted Women’s Helpline fielded 20,334 calls between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, in contrast to 12,352 over the identical interval the earlier 12 months, stated Yvonne Harding, supervisor of useful resource growth on the group.
“It’s very disturbing to know that there are so many women who are in this really precarious situation,” she stated. “There may have been limited support for them beforehand, but at least they had outlets.”
Harding stated alternatives to go away the home to get assist — akin to each day journeys to and from college — have in lots of instances been eradicated during the pandemic.
Access to family and friends has additionally been reduce off, she stated, leaving victims with fewer choices.
Call volumes spiked nearly instantly when swaths of Canada first locked down, Harding stated.
Police see comparable spike in domestic-related calls
Between April 1 and Sept. 30, the centre acquired 51,299 calls, in contrast to 24,010 in the identical time in 2019.
“Everything closed overnight, and our crisis lines lit up,” she stated.
“We saw a range of calls. We saw those who were feeling immediately threatened because their situation had escalated, and we saw those for whom fears were kicking in, because things were starting to change and they were used to being able to access community supports in person that were no longer available to them.”
The Assaulted Women’s Helpline has had to develop providers, she stated, and has acquired authorities funding to achieve this.
Police, too, are seeing a spike in domestic-related calls, albeit not as pronounced.
Data from 17 police forces throughout the nation present that calls associated to home disturbances — which might contain something from a verbal quarrel to experiences of violence” — rose by nearly 12 per cent between March and June of 2020 compared to the same four months in 2019, according to a Statistics Canada analysis.
It also showed reports of assaults by family members dropped by 4.3 per cent and reports of sexual assaults by family dropped 17.7 per cent.
The Ontario Provincial Police did not provide data about domestic incidents, but Sgt. Julie Randall — who specializes in cases of domestic and intimate partner violence — said the force has seen a small uptick in calls.
Intimate partner violence, mental health often ‘closely connected’
Randall is part of a co-ordinating network of police services dealing with domestic violence, and she said other forces in the province are reporting similar increases.
“Intimate partner violence and psychological well being are sometimes carefully related, and from what’s been reported worldwide, the pandemic has had a profound impact on folks’s psychological well being,” she said.
But Randall noted the pandemic can’t necessarily bear the entire blame for the spike, noting there may be another reason that calls to helplines far outpace calls to police.
“Statistics inform us that home violence goes on lengthy earlier than somebody really picks up the cellphone to name the police,” Randall said. “So anecdotally, I can say that always our calls are decrease than what’s really occurring locally.”