Pandemic within a Pandemic: Domestic Violence and Abuse

Junko Mifune

The increase of domestic violence (DV), child abuse, and elder abuse during the current COVID-19 pandemic has been reported across the world, including Canada.

Under the current measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, victims and abusers are inevitably spending more time together at home. The additional likelihood of abusers experiencing more stress over financial pressure, loss of jobs, as well as the constant threat of infection, increases the incentive for abusers to maltreat their victims. As the victims are forced to remain behind closed doors without many opportunities for them to leave their homes, such as for work, for school, or to meet with friends, has made this pandemic time more challenging for victims to seek help.

Victims of abuse are faced with a difficult predicament under the current circumstance. Even when they decide to seek help by leaving their home, by leaving their home they face the risk of contracting the Coronavirus. However, seeking help is the first step for victims to start their journey of life without abuse.

If you are suffering from abuse of any kind, please contact JSS (Japanese Social Services) or the resources listed below. Some of the listed resources can be accessed by Texting or by use of a messaging app. With friends, decide a hand gesture that you can use over video chat or in-person as a gesture to communicate that you need help.

It is more essential than ever for friends, neighbours, or anyone around victims to reach out to victims of abuse. If you suspect anything unusual or suspicious about your friends or neighbours (e.g., loud disturbing noises, crying, change in appearances or stressed facial expressions), please reach out to that person. . Be mindful that the abusers may be listening to your communication with the victims, and to ask victims yes or no questions, for example, “Would you like me to call 911 or a shelter for you?”

JSS accepts calls and inquiries about DV, child abuse, and elder abuse. Please contact JSS regarding the details of the support and services the following agencies provide. JSS counsellors will assist you to connect with the appropriate resources.

· 911(Police Stations also are open for walk-ins for DV victims)

· DV Crisis Line: 24 hour Help Line: 416-533-8538, TTY: 416-533-3736

· Assaulted Women’s Helpline: 416-364-4144 www.awhl.org

· ShelterNet: https://www.sheltersafe.ca/ontario/

· KIDS HELP PHONE: 1-800-668-6868 https://kidshelpphone.ca/(Text, Live chat)

· Children’s Aid Society of Toronto: 416-924-4646

· Seniors Safety Line: 1-866-299-1011

· The 519 Anti-Violence Program: 416-392-6874 www.the519.org (LGBT community support)

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