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‘Our systems are not appropriate’: Advocates call for increased domestic violence supports

Click to play video: 'N.B. advocates call for increased domestic violence supports' N.B. advocates call for increased domestic violence supports
Like many domestic violence shelters across the country, Crossroads for Women in Moncton has been operating at full capacity. Now they're renovating to add more beds in an effort to keep up. As Callum Smith reports, advocates say more resources are needed as winter approaches – Nov 10, 2020

Like many domestic violence shelters across the country, Crossroads for Women in Moncton has been operating at full capacity.

Now the organization is renovating, adding more beds, in an effort to keep up.

Advocates say more gender-based violence, or domestic violence, resources are needed, especially with winter weather around the corner.

“Right now, we’re seeing an increase in demand for services, and the thing that scares me about that, and… what triggered the expansion, is that the winter months are coming,” Crossroads for Women Executive Director Chantal Poirier tells Global News.

Depending on donations and furniture layout, they’ll add 10-14 more beds.

Read more: Domestic disturbance calls jump amid coronavirus, as many advocates feared

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Poirier says the winter is a concern because it can leave victims vulnerable.

“Typically, we send our residents to the homeless shelter if we are full, and we often see that there is no room at the homeless shelter, either,” she says. “So then they turn back to their abuser because there’s no other outlet for them to turn to.”

There’s a common misconception, Poirier says, that people should be able to “just leave” situations of abuse.

But the demand for more resources isn’t just a local issue.

“In shelters all over Canada, we’re often hovering around 100 per cent occupancy every day,” says Andrea Gunraj, vice-president of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

 Poirier says in some cases, they’ve sent victims to hotels when possible.

“But that also increases the risk for women and children,” she says. “We’ve had situations where the abuser has found them in the hotel, so we’re deployed in middle of the night to assist.”

The Canadian Women’s Foundation says people often feel silenced in violent situations.

“Also I think that it’s an indication that our society still has a lot of stigma, still has a lot of judgement for people who say that they’re being abused,” Gunraj says. “And our systems are not appropriate.”

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Minorities are at a higher risk of violence, she says.

Read more: Domestic violence ‘shadow pandemic’ on the rise in Edmonton

And much like how we adapted to COVID-19 by wearing masks and physical distancing, Gunraj says we need to take domestic violence just as seriously.

“I think we have to use that same lens, a public health lens, a harm-reduction lens, on gender-based violence,” she says. “So that we change our behaviour, we change our thinking, we increase our education, we increase the solutions that we fund.”

Aside from funding resources, such as shelters, she says a national action plan needs to be implemented to help decrease domestic violence in Canada.

As for Crossroads for Women, renovations are expected to be completed by Dec. 1. But they’re hoping for provincial support to help with costs.

Click to play video: 'How COVID-19 might impact those living with domestic violence' How COVID-19 might impact those living with domestic violence
How COVID-19 might impact those living with domestic violence – May 15, 2020

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