Intimate partner violence and domestic violence exist at high levels in Canada. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, concern relating to the increase in gender-based violence against women and children prompted the formation of the COVID-19 Women's Initiative which has since transitioned into Community Women's Initiative.
More than 1 in 3
women report experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in their lifetime.
of Canadians know a woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.
Indigenous women are killed at 6 times the rate of non-Indigenous women.
of trans women experience IPV in their lifetime.
Lesbian and bisexual women are 3-4 times more likely than heterosexual women to report experiencing spousal violence.
Home isn't safe for everyone
These staggering numbers paint a bleak picture of life at home for some Canadian women. Moreover, these statistics are considered to be grossly underestimated for myriad reasons, such as aversion to disclosure by survivors or the use of language-specific surveys via telephone that some women may not be able to access.
Although incomplete, the aforementioned statistics clearly demonstrate the undeniable prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). IPV is defined as any behaviour used to control, manipulate, or injure the person suffering from these acts. These acts may include, but are not limited to, physical violence, emotional abuse, verbal threats, and/or financial and sexual control. It is common for many of these types of abuse to co-exist, and they can happen to anyone at any time.
Although IPV has been an ongoing issue, catastrophes, such as pandemics, are known to cause increases in the rate and severity of IPV. The World Health Organization has cited a marked increase in incidence of domestic violence worldwide following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, there has been a corresponding increase in demand for womxn-specific support systems, specifically women’s shelters and anti-violence organizations; this demand is difficult to match, as the COVID-19 situation has decreased the capacity of many of these organizations. All this taken together means that the many more people suffering from IPV have additional barriers to the supports and medical attention they need.
Rates of domestic violence in Canada are increasing at an alarming rate, particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Many women’s shelters in BC were overwhelmed prior to the pandemic due to underfunding, and are now being challenged with supporting even more residents. The unfortunate result is that many residents of women’s shelters have limited access to life-sustaining necessities, and shelters are forced to turn away women and children who are in desperate need of a safe haven. Women need the financial, emotional, and physical support that women’s shelters provide more than ever right now - and they cannot wait.
There is, without a doubt, an unprecedented need for increased advocacy and support for women in Canada and globally at this time. Shelters in crisis cannot effectively do all of the incredible, diverse, life-changing work they aspire to. We are determined to help women’s shelters to continue supporting women, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
To find a first stage or second stage housing option near you, go to sheltersafe.ca
For information regarding women's shelter and other services please go to our 'Resources' tab.
If you are in immediate danger call 9-1-1
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