'We will make sure there is a safe space': Province promises supports for B.C. violence victims
VICTORIA -- The B.C. government is promising support and a safe space to go for those experiencing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, as sexual assault and domestic violence front-line workers raise concerns that calls will spike.
In recent weeks, advocates have reported an increase in calls looking for information, and several told CTV News the social isolation being experienced is a "worst case scenario." They expect this means the number of women and children needing help during the pandemic will also rise. As residents are being told to stay at home, there’s a recognition that may not always be a safe space.
Mitzi Dean, the parliamentary secretary for gender equity, issued a statement today saying in part, "If you reach out for help, we will make sure there is a safe space during this emergency - no matter where you live in B.C."
The province is working with BC Housing and other organizations to find support for women and children fleeing violence, and that may include hotels.
"Violent and unstable homes are still an unacceptable reality for many people, and during times of crisis, levels of violence can increase," said Dean.
For years, advocates have expressed concerns about stable funding, shelters that are mostly full all over the province, and the financial concerns facing women who leave.
With more women and children at home with potentially violent people, there is worry the system is stressed and may not be able to provide the help needed. With the statement, the province is trying to ease those concerns.
Those needing help can reach out to VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. These supports are available 24-7.