Domestic Violence in a Pandemic

Domestic violence is an abuse of power in the home which manifests in a myriad of ways: physical, sexual, financial, psychological and/or emotional.  The perpetrator is often an intimate partner and/or family member.  The abuser may use tactics of intimidation, harassment, threats, confinement, removal of the necessities of life, stalking, damage of property and withdrawal of financial support.  Most often it is women and children who suffer this form of abuse.

Domestic violence is a social justice issue that is being monitored in Canada and internationally during the pandemic.  To get timely information about how Canadians were coping with COVID-19, Statistics Canada developed a new web panel survey. More than 4,600 people in the 10 provinces responded to this survey between March 29 and April 3.1 The survey noted that 1 in 10 women were extremely worried about the increase of violence in the home due to the increased confinement with the pandemic.

Another survey conducted by the Ending Violence Association of Canada and the London, Ontario based Anova from May 18 to July 20, 2020 examined gender-based violence (GBV).2  Thirty-eight percent of workers helping those with GBV felt that the intensity had increased during COVID.  Through an info session held in my church, Anova reported a decrease in calls for help initially during the pandemic – it may have been difficult to reach out for help when the abuser is also confined at home.  The shelter has remained open, finding new ways to create a safe environment through COVID-19.  (Note: gender-based violence is both public and domestically situated.)

How can we help?   If you suspect a friend is experiencing domestic violence, check the following websites for resources on how to recognize the signs and how to best offer support:    ACWS.ca/shelters, sheltersafe.ca , anovafuture.org.

Prayer: Loving and gracious God, open our hearts to be sensitive to those who are suffering abuse.  May they find the courage to initiate their healing journey and may we find the compassion and wisdom to support this healing.  We pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Submitted by:

Valerie Hobson

WICC Board Member and Marketing and Communications Chair

Sources:

  1. Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 1: Impacts of COVID-19
  2. Pandemic Meets Pandemic: Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 on Gender-Based Violence, Services and Survivors in Canada

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