A pandemic-fuelled rise in domestic violence has prompting nine Sarnia-Lambton partners to say their doors are open and help is available.
Social isolation, financial instability and reduced access to friends and family has increased both the level of violence and its intensity, said Angie Marks, executive director of the Women’s Interval Home.
An Ontario survey of staff working with domestic abuse survivors found 82% have seen a rise in violence and frequency since March 2020.
“The pandemic has created unsafe environments for anyone experiencing abuse,” Marks said.
The impact of violence is often seen in schools, said Dawn Flegel, executive director of the local Children’s Aid Society.
“When learning went virtual because of the pandemic, teachers had less opportunity to interact with children and see possible signs of child welfare concerns,” she said.
“Reports to the Children’s Aid Society went down at a time when needs and worries went up.”
Local agencies want to remind residents that domestic violence services are deemed essential, with precautions taken for client safety. Anyone who goes to a friend, neighbour or shelter for help is not breaking stay-at-home orders.
If you have a loved one with a known history of abuse, stay in touch and have a safety plan, including a safe word to identify they are in danger and need police help.
Support is available in Sarnia-Lambton through:
* Women’s Interval Home – 1-800-265-1412
* Victim Services of Sarnia-Lambton – 519-344-8861, ext. 5238
* Sarnia-Lambton Children’s Aid Society – 519-336-0623
* Sarnia-Lambton Coordinating Committee on Violence Against Women – 519-786-4053
* Bluewater Health’s Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre – 519-464-4522
Réseau-Femmes du Sud-Ouest de l’Ontario (pour services disponibles en français) – 226-349- 9907 or 1-888-946-3029
* Three Fires Ezhignowenmindwaa Women’s Shelter (Walpole Island First Nation) – 519-627-3635
* Sarnia Police Service – 519-344-8861 (911 for emergencies)
* Ontario Provincial Police – 1-888-310-1122 (911 for emergencies)