Funding to help victims of domestic abuse during COVID-19 outbreak
LONDON, ONT -- Victim services across Ontario, including agencies in the London region, are getting a funding boost during the COVID-19 pandemic due in part to a rise in domestic violence cases.
The Ontario government is boosting funding by more than $2.7 million to support victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes.
"During the COVID-19 health emergency, victim service providers are seeing a spike in domestic violence cases just as victims are left with fewer and fewer places to turn for help," said Ontario Network of Victim Service Provider President Sheri MacDonald in a statement.
For some across the province and Canada, self-isolation can mean being isolated with an individual who is abusive.
Victim Services Elgin will receive $25,750 and Victim Services Middlesex County will receive $75,400 as part of this one-time emergency payment which is being made to more than 50 agencies across the province.
The funds are intended to help organizations in rural areas stay open and accessible to those who need them.
"This emergency payment will ensure victims of crime, particularly those who are experiencing domestic violence, get the help they need to stay safe and healthy during this crisis," said MPP Jeff Yurek.
Trying to find ways to support and shelter women has become a new challenge that ANOVA in London is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are seeing an increase in our services. More women quite frankly are coming to our doors for support with domestic violence and abuse,” says Dr. Annalise Trudell of ANOVA. ”We are having to look at all sorts of housing options in addition to shelter options and our counselling is increasing as well.”
Trudell says with physical distancing also being key for the safety of their clients, housing options have extended beyond the organizations regular shelters. This move has increased costs, when ANOVA was already dealing with underfunding.
”We are at a very big crunch moment where if we don’t see those dollars soon, we’re going to be in some trouble.”
Trudell says it’s unclear how much of the new funding her organization will receive, but every dollar helps.
Meanwhile, the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) is also working to provide support to women of domestic abuse during this trying time.
Executive Director Megan Walker says it's unclear if her organization will receive any of the funding because they don’t run a full-time shelter. However the LAWC does work with community partners to find women a safe place to stay.
”Right now we are working with police, so if they respond to a 911 call and the woman is presenting as abused and the woman needs to get out even as an overnight reprieve, the police know the location we are working with. Police can then bring them to that location immediately and that's all taken care of.”
Walker says the centre is also checking it's voicemail every 15 minutes, so if anyone calls for immediate help they can get in touch with support very quickly.
”We are doing the best we can under really difficult circumstances and we are working collaboratively with ANOVA and our other partners because there is no wrong door to walk through,” says Walker. “Whatever door you walk through, whatever door you walk through as a woman facing violence is right for you and we are all being responsive to those needs.”
If you or anyone you know is in an abusive situation and needs help here are a list of local organizations and numbers:
- London Abused Women’s Centre: 519-432-2204
- ANOVA Crisis Line: 519-642-3000 or 1-800-265-1576
- Violence Against Women, Services Elgin County: 1-800-265-4305
- Domestic Abuse Services Oxford: 519-539-7488
- Women’s Interval Home of Sarnia Lambton: 519-336-5200
- With files from CTV's Justin Zadorsky