Toronto – April 8, 2020 – Periods of crisis are especially bad for people in abusive relationships. With the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, it is a stressful time marked by health anxiety and significant job loss. And unfortunately, stress is a trigger for abusers.
What is unique about the COVID-19 crisis is that it is forcing people into self-isolation and dangerous situations if they are in an abusive relationship.
Going to work, going to school, and visiting with friends are off limits with the requirement to practice physical distancing. And this means some Canadians are trapped inside their homes. Sadly, an abuser can use this crisis as justification for exerting control over their partner’s food and finances, which might involve taking away credit cards or withholding food.
Thankfully, women’s shelters and transition houses across the country are doing their best to remain open for those fleeing domestic violence, despite the current health challenges. Federal and provincial governments have also announced new spending to support these necessary services during this critical time.
If you are concerned about a co-worker, friend, or family member who you believe is experiencing abuse, consider taking the following steps:
- Remind them that you care about their health and well-being;
- Encourage them to reach out to their local shelter to get support and to develop a safety plan;
- Keep the lines of communication open to reduce isolation; and
- Reach out to your union representative, who can work with the affected member and a shelter worker to help them escape abuse.
You can help in your community by donating to local shelters so that they can continue to offer services during this crisis. Contact your local organization to find out how you can help.
If you need help immediately, contact Sheltersafe which provides information and can help identify a shelter in your community. Crisis and distress lines are available in most provinces and territories, and 211 can identify local sources of support in many communities. For more information, visit the Canadian Labour Congress’s “Domestic violence during a pandemic” resource page.
As Canada’s leading union, UFCW is fully committed to achieving gender equity and working to end domestic violence in this country. To learn more about UFCW Canada’s work to prevent violence against women and support survivors of abuse, visit our union’s Women and Gender Equity page.