MRC PONTIAC – Like all services under the Covid-19 regime, women’s shelters and support services are experiencing higher call volumes and changes in procedures. However, they remain open for women who need support and/or shelter from domestic violence, particularly at a time when they may be home all the time in a toxic environment without the ability to leave for school or work.
“The impacts are there,” explains Ashley Nadeau, Coordinator of L’EntourElle, about how Covid-19 has affected the service. “We’re still offering sheltering, but instead of face-to-face follow-ups with women, we’re calling by phone more frequently,” she added.
CBC reported an increase of 20-30% in violence rates in some parts of Canada, and according to Nadeau they have seen an increase in calls to their 24/7 crisis line, with many questions about whether L’EntourElle is open, although exact
statistics aren’t available.
Normally the shelter has 9 beds, but fewer people can be housed right now due to social distancing restrictions. Along with family rooms (where mothers and children reside together), some singlerooms can accommodate more than one person,
but not at the present time to limit contact between non-family members. Other protocols have been established to protect workers and residents with strict sanitary controls in place because it’s a community living environment.
Alternative strategies for women who don’t have access to a phone or
are confined at home with a spouse include sending Facebook messages (checked every 15 minutes), writing a note and slipping it to a delivery person, or giving a note to someone at the grocery store/ pharmacy asking them to call for help. L’EntourElle has been promoting this idea with local merchants, asking them to call the centre immediately and not ask the woman any questions.
What can you do if someone is experiencing domestic violence? “Listen,” says Nadeau. Don’t minimize their experience and reach out to L’EntourElle or the police if you fear for someone’s safety. If you are a woman needing support, reach out by slipping a note to someone, calling the SOS Conjugal Violence line at
1-800-363-9010, message L’EntourElle on Facebook, send them an email at
email@example.com or call them 24/7 at 819-683-2709.