The Canadian government's stay-at-home orders amidst the Coronavirus pandemic is essential in reducing the spread of the deadly virus and flattening the curve. While these measures are certainly necessary, being confined to only the area within the home has proven to exacerbate instances of domestic violence and abuse. In Vancouver, for instance, there was a 300% increase in calls to the Battered Women’s Services (CTV News 2020).
"there was a 300% increase in calls to the Battered Women’s Services"
Individuals dealing with past and current trauma have several different coping mechanisms. However, when a lot of the resources, both physical and psychological, are less accessible and available to these individuals, the trauma is much less manageable. To have the ability to leave home (i.e., for activities other than neighbourhood walks), means the ability to socialize with friends, engage in hobbies, and have their own personal space when necessary. The pandemic changes this reality. A New York Times article showed that reporting domestic abuse issues to the police is less effective in these times due to the overwhelmed system, and the ability for lawyers to get involved is also more restricted due to postponed court proceedings. This has led to an entire paradigm shift of what society is used to in terms of accessing resources and typical proceedings when dealing with violence within the home.
For the time being, many resources have changed their main platform so that they are accessible via Internet. Many general practitioners and psychologists have telephone and video appointments available as an alternative to in-person appointments, yet it is certainly more difficult to register as a new patient or begin a journey with professional psychological therapy at this time. This is not to say it is impossible by any means, and I certainly encourage those who may need to speak to someone to reach out to any of the resources listed on our Resources page.
However, it’s not all bad news. Throughout this pandemic, there has been a shift in the ways people approach and discuss issues relating to mental health and trauma. People are encouraging seeking help more than ever before, and awareness about issues such as trauma, abuse, and mental health has appeared to skyrocket. Additionally, the Government of Ontario website makes a statement that “Ontario funded emergency shelters for women and children fleeing violence are available to offer support during the COVID-19 outbreak.” 24-hour toll-free telephone crisis lines are a great resource as well that can be accessed remotely to allow people to access the help they need. Although this pandemic is a trying time for everyone, especially those who have difficult at-home situations, there is hope. It is important to make adjustment to how you reach out for help — it may be slightly more difficult, but there are still resources!
Some COVID-19 Specific Resources
For confidential chat sessions with psychologists and social workers, text WELLNESS to:
686868 for youth
741741 for adults
Hope for Wellness Help Line
Crisis Services Canada
Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support
Ontario Victim Services Directory
Ontario Domestic Violence Treatment Centers
For more resources, please visit our Resources page. Anyone who is victim of household violence or has concerns about another individual, please seek out available help.
Written By: Daphna