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Increased calls to crisis line during pandemic, concern for women isolating with abusive partner


Battered Women Support Services has seen an increase in calls during the pandemic

BWSS faced a challenge of connecting women to transition homes but those are filling up quickly

A lower mainland hotel chain has been able to open up for women escaping abusive relationships

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s supposed to be the safest place for a person to be, but for someone in an abusive relationship, isolation at home is a nightmare.

Battered Women Support Services, a women’s advocacy group which helps women across the province, has been overwhelmed with calls for the last few weeks.

“Prior to COVID-19 on a busy day, we might get from 30 to 50. We’re getting more than 100 calls now,” says Angela Marie MacDougall, BWSS executive director.

In response, BWSS has launched a 24/7 crisis line.

It has also released a list of ways COVID-19 impacts women experiencing violence, such as an abusive partner withholding necessary items like disinfectant, or sharing misinformation to scare their partner. Being in self-isolation with an abusive partner could impact someone’s escape or safety plan or lead to the partner escalating isolation tactics.

“The abusive partner isn’t going to work, maybe she’s not going to work. There isn’t the break that you would then get in a day that would then give some reprieve, and then either be able to either get services or connect,” MacDougall says.

She adds some of the calls coming in are about figuring out options.

RELATED: Self-isolation not always an option: women’s advocacy group amid coronavirus outbreak

“They’re concerned for the safety of their mother, they’re concerned for their own safety, and the safety of their siblings.”

During a pandemic, the challenge is getting people away from an abusive relationship. BWSS would typically connect women to transition homes, but those are quickly filling up.

Instead, MacDougall thought about getting in touch with a Lower Mainland hotel chain to see if they could open up. She received a positive response right away.

“That was beautiful,” she says.

The name of the hotel chain is not being released to keep the whereabouts of women escaping abusive relationships safe.

If you or someone who know needs help, call the crisis line at 1-855-687-1868 or text 604-652-1867.