Ishtar Women’s Resource Society’s (IWRS) crisis line remains open – providing emotional support and safe housing to women experiencing gender-based violence or uncertainty during difficult times.
Although social isolation may help reduce the spread of COVID-19, for many survivors, staying home is not a safe option.
North American case studies and first-hand accounts indicate that violence against women is likely to increase after a disaster – meaning a women’s safety from gender-based violence is further compromised by the pandemic.
IWRS wants to assure women experiencing gender-based violence that they are not alone during this unprecedented crisis.
People are free to call the IWRS Crisis Line at 604-530-9442. Phone lines are open 24/7.
Laurie Parsons, IWRS Executive Director said women who experience gender-based violence are in isolation with their violent partners during this pandemic.
“Men who use violence against women have more control than ever in these circumstances and may be home 24 hours per day. These are especially dangerous times for women in violent relationships,” she said. “I’m so very proud of IWRS’s incredibly dedicated staff who will continue to provide services throughout the pandemic as best they can.”
To minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure to supported women, children, staff and volunteers, IWRS’s free-store has been closed but essentials such as food, coats, and hygiene products are still available at reception.
Support workers and counsellors are available on-site and if a woman is ill, services can be offered by phone and email.
Transition House is available for women and children fleeing violence.
Isolation plans are in place for women who are ill or confirmed with the COVID-19 virus.
The transition houses are running very low on disinfectant wipes, paper towels, hand sanitizer and other cleaning products.
If anyone can help with donations, people can call 604-534-1011.
For more information, people can visit www.ishtarsociety.org.
Parliamentary secretary’s statement on safe spaces for people leaving violence
Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, issued a statement on April 8 about the Province’s support for women and children experiencing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While people across the province are staying home to stem the spread of COVID-19 and protect us all, for some, home is not a safe place. We know that social isolation is making life harder for women and children who live in unstable or violent situations. 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.,” Dean assured.
“BC Housing is already working with our partner organizations to support women and children who would otherwise be trapped at home in dangerous situations,” she continued.
“I want to thank all of our partners and the front-line workers who are there for women and children now, and every day. We could not do this work without you. I also want to thank Minister Selina Robinson, BC Housing and Premier Horgan for their leadership on providing supports for people who need them most during this time of crisis,” Dean said.
VictimLinkBC can be contacted at 1-800-563-0808 or by email at: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca which will both connect people to these supports and are available to help 24/7 with service in multiple languages.
“Violent and unstable homes are still an unacceptable reality for many people, and during times of crisis, levels of violence can increase,” Dean added. ”We may be distanced, but we are united in our work to help keep British Columbians safe. We are in this together, and together, we will get through this.”
Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services reports a 300 per cent spike in calls to its crisis line since the COVID-19 outbreak began – a common trend being found in larger centres.
Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, said with no sign yet of the stay-at home orders being lifted, people may know of friends, neighbours, or even relative strangers down the street who may be suffering abuse at the hands of a spouse or partner.
“Many people don’t want to get involved, but an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers may put an end to it, or even save a life,” Annis added.
Crime Stoppers released some common signs for people to watch for that may reveal someone is being abused at home:
• Their partner may be jealous, possessive or excessively controlling
• Their partner may insult them in front others
• They constantly worry about making their partner angry
• They make excuses for their partner’s behaviour
• They have unexplained marks or injuries
• A noticeable change in normal behaviour; no longer spend time with friends and family
Information on safe homes is also available on the BC Housing website: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/women-fleeing-violence/transition-houses-safe-homes
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