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Ottawa domestic abuse support line expands to more communities amid COVID-19

An Ottawa text and chat service set up to help victims of domestic abuse is expanding to the LGBTQ2S+ community and Lanark County. Getty

Ottawa organizations worried about victims living with abusers during the novel coronavirus crisis are expanding a support line for those facing domestic violence to more communities.

The Unsafe at Home Ottawa chat and text line launched in April to support women who felt trapped by lockdown orders surrounding the pandemic.

The line gave a secure, subtle way for women to text or chat with operators when they were feeling unsafe without drawing attention by picking up a phone, for instance.

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Since April, Unsafe at Home has hosted more than 700 text and chat sessions with vulnerable Ottawa residents.

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United Way East Ontario, Crime Prevention Ottawa and Interval House of Ottawa announced Tuesday that the service would now be expanded to cater to the LGBTQ2S+ community and Lanark County.

The Western Ottawa Resource Centre, Lanark County Victim Services and Kind Space will all join the initiative to help increase its scope.

Read more: Halifax man shares video of his alleged assault by man he reported for suspected domestic abuse

Carling Miller, executive director of Kind Space, said in a statement that one in three LGBTQ2S+ individuals will face violence in a relationship, but noted that a discreet platform like Unsafe at Home could help them in seeking supports.

“It is often difficult for members of LGBTQ2S+ communities to report intimate partner violence to police because they fear stigmatization around revealing their sexuality,” Miller said.

The Unsafe at Home Ottawa text and chat line is available from 8:30 a.m. to midnight each day of the week, and messages are encrypted to ensure the security of communications.

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