Domestic violence in B.C. could ‘remain behind closed doors’ amid COVID-19, group warns

Crime Stoppers is warning of a surge in domestic violence amid the coronavirus pandemic. Roos Koole/Getty Images

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is raising concerns about domestic violence amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group said regional measures designed to limit social interactions could lead to more time at home and an increased potential for domestic violence to stay in the shadows.

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Surge in domestic violence during COVID-19 crisis – Apr 23, 2020

“We’re being asked to gather in even smaller groups this winter and that means most of us will be in touch less and less with others,” executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers Linda Annis said in a release.

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“Under these conditions, there’s an increased potential for domestic violence to remain behind closed doors and invisible. It’s important to stay in touch with friends and family this winter and be especially vigilant. An anonymous call to Crime Stoppers means the information will make its way to someone who can investigate.”

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Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers urges anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse, or knows someone who is, to call contact Crime Stoppers anonymously and provide information.

In April, a Vancouver-based crisis phone line reported an increase in calls from women experiencing domestic violence.

The Calgary Domestic Violence Collective, meanwhile, said it has seen a decline in the number of calls to police, helplines and service providers for support, which raised concerns the pandemic may be making it more difficult for victims to report violence.

Advocates in Alberta have referred to domestic violence as a “shadow pandemic.”

“The calls out are maybe decreasing, but the complexity of the danger that people are seeing is increased,” Kim Ruse, CEO of Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter and co-chair of the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective, told Global News earlier this month.

— With files from Kaylen Small