COVID-19 restrictions could increase risk of domestic violence: RCMP

Individuals already at risk of domestic violence may become even more vulnerable as government responds to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and we see people becoming more restricted to their homes.

So, it’s more important than ever to be aware of supports available in the community and to reach out for help if you need it, the Campbell River RCMP say.

“Due to COVID-19, social distancing measures have been implemented globally and with a recent spike in Canadian cases we may again see individuals becoming more restricted to their homes,” RCMP media liaison officer Const. Maury Tyre writes in his monthly domestic violence report issued Nov. 6. “Social isolation can exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities, in addition to limiting access to support services (Van Gelder et al., 2020 as cited in Usher et al., 2020).”

Gloria Jackson who works in Community-Based Victim Services and sits on the Campbell River Violence in Relationships (VIR) Committee says, “I think that the reality is, is that the referrals are more complex. Individuals are struggling with addiction, mental health issues, unemployment and homelessness, in addition to domestic violence. The added stress of a pandemic on individuals only complicates matters further, and in-person resources have become less easily accessible as a result of COVID-19.”

The VIR Committee is a partnership of agencies and organizations working collaboratively to provide efficient, accessible, and respectful services to individuals who have experienced gender-based and sexual violence in Campbell River and surrounding areas (Gold River, Sayward, and Quadra and Cortes Islands).

The VIR aims to:

• ensure appropriate services and programs are available and accessible to those affected by gender-based violence and sexual assault;

• be a unified voice in promoting the safety and needs of those affected by gender-based violence and sexual assault;

• increase knowledge and understanding of the issues of gender-based violence and sexual assault within our community.

As a part of this continued commitment, the Violence in Relationships Committee has collaborated with the RCMP and Community-Based Victim Services on this report to help illuminate the real-life applicability of this data.

Community-Based Victim Services reports 13 new referrals in addition to 40 general inquiries in the month of October. General inquiries include referrals where no legal action is being taken; incidents with no ongoing justice procedures; or individuals inquiring about general information, resources, or options. This is an increase from October 2019, which saw 10 new referrals and 30 general inquiries.

RELATED: Special Victims Unit named as Campbell River Mounties of the Month

The Violence in Relationships Committee wants the community of Campbell River to know that supports are still available and that it is important to reach out and ask for help if you need it.

If you are in immediate danger, always call 911.

Services and agencies in Campbell River are still open and available for support, however, some may be operating remotely by telephone.

These numbers, listed below, are crisis lines that are available 24-hours a day:

• Vancouver Island Crisis line: 1-888-494-3888;

• The Campbell River & North Island Transition Society Help Line: 250-286-3666 or toll-free 1-800-667-2188 or text 250-895-1773;

• VictimLinkBC is a toll-free, confidential, and multilingual telephone service which provides information and referral assistance to all victims of crime, in addition to immediate crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence: 1-800-563-0808;

• If you think a child or youth (under 19 years of age) is being abused or neglected, call 1-800-663-9122.

October 2020, Domestic Violence Statistics

The Campbell River RCMP reports indicate that in the month of October, 2020 there were 29 nonviolent domestic reports (which encompasses loud arguments, breaches of orders, child custody complaints, etc.) and 14 reported incidents of violence. The total percentage of RCMP files that were considered domestic for the month of October was 2.7 per cent of the more than 1,600 files.

Const. Tyre says, “This month is the second month this year where we’ve seen a substantial spike in domestic files, but when we look at the history, it’s the fact that the corresponding months in 2019 had been abnormally low. Unlike many jurisdictions during COVID, we haven’t seen a substantial spike in domestic calls for the year.”

While Campbell River RCMP reports relatively stable domestic violence statistics over the past three years, it must be acknowledged that rates of domestic violence reporting still only capture a fraction of the total cases. The 2014 General Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization) demonstrated that 7 in 10 victims of spousal violence never reported these incidents to the police because they viewed abuse as a private matter. For those victims who did report, the majority cited they did so because they wanted to receive protection and stop the violence (Burczycka & Ibrahim, 2016).

RELATED: September police stats: domestic violence steady; Preventable property crimes continue

RELATED: Campbell River RCMP arrest man in connection with downtown graffiti spree

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