Gender-based violence was dubbed the Shadow Pandemic of COVID-19 by the United Nations.
While isolation measures are gradually being lifted, the reality of gender-based violence remains – and it continues to disproportionately impact women. With decreased access to supports, services, and resources – and a major lack of funding in this area – the safety and well-being of women in our community is at stake.
Here are ten facts — illuminating why the BC Women’s Health Foundation expanded their partnership with the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC).
- Both the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have recognized gender-based violence as a significant public health issue. Women, girls, trans, and non-binary people are at highest risk of this kind of victimization.
- Stress, reduced income, food insecurity, alcohol consumption, disrupted family routines, and feeling loss of control are known triggers for violence in the home.
- One in 10 women in Canada is very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home while COVID-19 isolation measures are in effect.
- 15% of people in BC were “most likely to perceive an increase” in incidents of gender or race-based harassment or attacks since the start of the pandemic — more than double the rate in other Canadian provinces.
- In Canada, half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
- Sexual assault remains one of the most underreported crimes in Canada. Only 5% of sexual assaults and 26% of physical assaults experienced by women came to the attention of police.
- Women exposed to intimate partner violence are twice as likely to experience depression.
- 42% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner have experienced serious injuries as a result.
- Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
- There are over 4,000 missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
BUILDING ON A PARTNERSHIP
The Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) works collaboratively to create comprehensive province-wide prevention and response systems to support communities impacted by gender-based violence. EVA BC serves as a resource for over 300 community-based services and initiatives supporting survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, child abuse, and criminal and sexual harassment.
This new collaborative effort between our two non-profits will deliver life-saving resources to women as part of a COVID-19 provincial gender-based violence response.
“One of the most common tactics of an abuser is to isolate their victims. While we’re all doing our best to flatten the curve and self-isolate this is exactly the dynamic that abusers use. It can be very dangerous” – Tracy Porteous, Executive Director of EVA BC.
HOW EVA BC SUPPORTS SURVIVORS
Isolation policies create serious challenges for women at risk of violence, and for those trying to provide support services. Funding for virtual communications platforms and direct assistance will allow women’s shelters, transition houses, and organizations across the province to support women who are experiencing violence.
Every contribution — small or large — will directly support:
- Conference call lines for risk assessment and safety planning.
- Protocols for fast tracking cases directly to provincial authorities including the police, corrections, child protections, and family law.
- Essential service designations for all EVA BC programs, so that they can continue to do hospital and police accompaniments.
- Cell phones for survivors who are at the highest risk of domestic violence, as well as the front line workers supporting them.
- PPE for over 230 front line programs.
- An ongoing series of information bulletins, newsletters, and PSA’s highlighting the relationship between COVID-19 and gender-based violence.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
- Buy a limited edition “Ending Violence Together” mask – a special collaboration between BCWHF and EVA BC where 100% of net proceeds will fund prevention and response programs against gender-based violence across the province.
- Follow EVA BC on Twitter, and Facebook.
- Raise awareness by sharing this article and using the hashtag #SupportWomenProtectOthers. The more we speak about gender-based violence, the more it will become an issue that can not be ignored.
BC Women’s Health Foundation is BC’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the full spectrum of women’s health. The information shared is intended to educate, inform, and point readers to credible sources. It is not intended to substitute professional medical advice.
If you or someone you know is experiencing gender-based violence — VictimLinkBC is available 24-7 in multiple languages. It can be reached toll-free by calling 800-563-0808 or emailing VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca. The service is confidential and available across BC and Yukon.