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Domestic violence calls rise as pandemic wears on

A Vancouver Island frontline worker says domestic violence has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

Melissa Scott is a domestic violence victims service worker with Comox Valley Family Services.

She says their workload has increased over the past few months.

“Numbers did escalate…, and increase and the number of referrals did increase in our program, as well as self-referrals and people reaching out and not knowing where to go,” Scott said. 

A new national report shows an increase in frequency and severity of domestic violence during COVID-19.

The report from  Women’s Shelters Canada (WSC) revealed disturbing trends in the violence frontline workers were seeing, including an increase in physical attacks (specifically stabbing, strangulation, and broken bones), forced confinement, sexual violence, emotional and financial abuse, increased human trafficking, and an overall higher frequency of abuse in all forms.

It also finds that abusers had used the pandemic as a strategy to further abuse and control women confined at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Scott expects another increase in numbers with the pressures of the Christmas season piling onto the stresses from COVID.

She added that the Comox Valley Family Services Association offers a broad spectrum of services to the valley.

“And if we can’t help or support the person that’s on the other end, we would definitely refer to our partners within the valley,” she said.

“We have many programs ranging from healthy families, (to) supports for children who have been exposed to sexual abuse. We also have a program that works directly with the Ministry of Children and Families, as well as our victims services program.” 

If you are a victim or know someone who is, reach out to Comox Valley Family Services at 250-338-7575.

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