If you are experiencing domestic violence and in need of support, please reach out to Victim Link BC at 1-800-563-0808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. These supports are available 24-7.
As we look ahead to more weeks, and possibly months, of some level of self-isolation, the toll on individuals and families continues to grow.
And while we have been collectively following the guidelines of the Provincial Health Officer and staying isolated in our homes as much as possible, it’s also clear that keeping the wider population safe from COVID-19 increases the risk for some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Women and children are at an increased risk of experiencing or witnessing domestic violence during this time, with limited ability to leave an unsafe situation or access their support networks. This risk is exacerbated by economic hardship and uncertainty.
During our one-day session in the BC Legislature in March, I asked the Minister about what steps the province is taking to help and support those who face domestic violence in their homes.
Minister James identified measures the government is taking, including supplementing current shelter spaces with additional accommodations in hotels, working with the sexual assault centres and shelters to increase services, and coordinating with the federal government. The federal government announced an additional $40M for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, with $10M invested in emergency shelters meant to benefit Indigenous women and children needing to flee unsafe situations.
There has been follow up media coverage on this issue, which is important.
Yesterday, the province assured people, “If you reach out for help, we will make sure there is a safe space during this emergency – no matter where you live in B.C.”
We can all make an effort to reach out to our friends and family who may be facing a challenging time at home – check in with them, and ensure they know where to reach out for support if needed.
While we recognize that we need an immediate response to this in order to keep people safe right now, we also want to think ahead. We need to address the root causes of domestic violence, and look to creating solutions not just for women and children fleeing violence, but for the perpetrators of violence themselves. Intergenerational trauma, economic uncertainty, lack of social networks, substance dependency all contribute to domestic violence, and we should strive to create support systems that help move us forward as a society, away from violence and abuse.