Offer help escaping violence in Covid-19 apps, report suggests
New measures are needed to help people stuck in violent situations because of Covid-19 public health restrictions, a report published last week finds.
Researchers writing in the Journal of Family Violence reviewed the impact of the pandemic on rural, remote, and northern Canadian communities.
“Restrictions imposed on the public and stay-at-home measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading across communities will inevitably have an effect on intimate partner violence behind closed doors,” the article noted.
Even before the pandemic, the authors continued, “in small and remote, often tight-knit communities, reporting abuse and accessing services raises challenging issues around anonymity and confidentiality.”
To help people trapped at home with violent partners, the authors asked governments and non-profits to “consider unique ways to keep victims of violence safe while managing social isolation and physical distancing.”
Among their recommendations: adding information about intimate partner violence to one of Canada’s national Covid-19 apps as well as the federal government’s Covid-19 email updates.
Doing so would “increase the dissemination of information about warning signs and services available to victims and abusers,” the authors stated, and would be “particularly useful to those living in remote, rural and northern regions of the country.”
That information could include links to existing websites that connect people with resources and help them make decisions when experiencing violence.
However, the authors also asked that organizations take care to ensure “websites can be accessed safely with quick exit features and easy steps to clear browsing data.”
The article called for more research into the impact of Covid-19 on women in remote Canadian communities, to help prepare better services for future waves of infection or an entirely different pandemic.
“It is through understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our responses to Covid-19, and post-disaster recovery, that we will learn how to better serve women at risk of intimate partner violence during future emergencies,” the authors concluded.
To find family violence resources in your area, you can access help here. You can call the NWT Help Line toll-free at 1-800-661-0844 at any time, or the Native Women’s Association of the NWT operates a crisis line around the clock at 1-866-459-1114.