Staff at the Lethbridge YWCA and Harbour House Women’s Emergency Shelter are anticipating an increase in cases of severe domestic violence during this COVID-19 health crisis.
CEO Shannon Hansen says Lethbridge is already a “hotbed for domestic violence” with the highest amount of people turned away from a domestic shelter per capita in Canada and the highest number of domestic violence reports to police.
She says the shelter hasn’t had many people come through since the onset of the pandemic and that has her concerned.
Hansen says says statistics show during a pandemic or natural disaster, the reporting of domestic violence drops significantly however the violence itself is actually increasing.
From what’s known about past crises, Hansen also notes people who have never experienced domestic violence before may be subjected to it during COVID-19 as people experience added stress, anxiety and self-isolation.
Hansen says the Harbour House Women’s Emergency Shelter has procedures for handwashing and masks if people show up in person, as well as a crisis line that is available 24/7, and there are resources to transport people to the facility.
She says they’re also working on other methods of contact like having the ability to text as opposed to phone since that’s what a lot of people need. She says that will be rolled out soon as will other options for communication.