Intimate accomplice violence in London, Ontario. Worsening amid a pandemic – London


Dr. Middlesex-London Health Unit’s health officer Chris Mackie is the youngest to sound the alarm about the problem of intimate partner violence, which has become more common and more serious during the pandemic.

During Thursday’s COVID-19 update, Mackie took the opportunity to explicitly identify partner violence as a major problem in the community.

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“We don’t have great coverage because in this pandemic context it is often more difficult for people to report intimate partner violence as there is more contact at home,” he said.

“We were able to speak to service providers. 86 percent of people who work in this sector have experienced an increase in intimate partner violence and an increase in the severity of intimate partner violence during this period. “

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Jessie Rodger, executive director of Anova, supported Mackie’s comments but also cited provincial data to demonstrate the scale and severity of the problem.

According to the latest femicide report from the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), there were 35 deaths in the first six months of 2021, compared to 19 in the same period in 2020.

“The province has seen a massive increase in the number of women killed as a result of domestic violence. I think if that doesn’t ring the alarm bells for everyone, it really should be, ”Rodger said.

At the local level, Anova has noted an increase in the reported intensity of violence.

“It happens for a variety of reasons. Some of them are late calling us due to COVID restrictions because they cannot get a phone, because they have no way to speak to us, so the violence will get worse. Sometimes they get stopped from contacting us or contacting people to help, ”she explained.

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“We also see a number of women who do not want to come to the shelter because of COVID-19. Despite all the precautionary measures that we take and that they would take, the risk for them and their children is still too great. “

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As a result, demand for Anova outreach consultants has “skyrocketed,” says Rodger.

The pandemic has also been particularly tough on staff as they try to provide as much support as possible with limited resources.

“Before COVID-19, we had to keep telling women that we didn’t have enough space in the shelter. This is an epidemic that meets a pandemic. And what has changed now is that the options available are fewer. “

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The London Center for Abused Women also told Global News that it saw an increase in service demand during the pandemic, but says that “there have been increased reports of male violence against women over several years”.

“The most dangerous place for women and children is still their home,” says managing director Jennifer Dunn. “LAWC encourages Dr. Mackie to proclaim male violence against women as a public health issue. “

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According to LAWC, it provided services to a total of 9,235 women and girls in the 2020-21 fiscal year, with 3,835 women and girls accessing “individual and group support and 5,400 phone calls for service”.

The numbers also include a 45 percent year-over-year increase in demand for LAWC’s Urgent Services Support Program.

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While raising the subject on Thursday, Mackie also provided advice to anyone who suspected that someone they know may be experiencing intimate partner violence.

“First of all, please try not to be angry or frustrated. There are many reasons why people stay in relationships despite violence. It’s a very complex, difficult situation, including being financially dependent or sheltered, worrying about violence – we know violence increases when people try to get out of intimate partner violence – and worrying about their children, “he explained.

“If you know someone who you believe or is exposed to domestic violence is experiencing domestic violence, talk to them about what you are seeing. Tell them that you are concerned about their safety, emotional well-being, and that of their children. Tell them you believe them, it’s not their fault.

“Make sure they have assistance developing a security plan. They can offer child or pet care. Go with them if they are looking for help. “

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Anova’s Rodger suggests that members of the public who want to help reach out to people in their life, especially anyone they haven’t heard from in a while.

“The chances that you know someone who has experienced intimate partner violence are very high,” she said.

“The other thing to think about is that in about a year we will have elections – federal, provincial, local elections. And there are a lot of things we need to talk about, but domestic violence and gender-based violence are one of them. “

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has a list of resources on their website that includes contact information for Anova and LAWC, as well as contacts for other support providers, safety planning information and more.

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