Maison Interlude House (MIH) set up the Unsafe At Home service to provide extra outlets for women and children who found themselves even more vulnerable during the pandemic. Instead of calling, victims could access a secure chat session online or via text message with a qualified Maison Interlude House employee.
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Nouveau soutien aux victimes de la violence
MIH outreach services supervisor Linda Smith said many victims of violence had spent almost all their time with their abusers during the pandemic, when travel outside the home was discouraged. The situation added to the abuser’s deliberate efforts to isolate the victim from friends and family members, and made it difficult for them to phone or visit support services.
“When we first went into lockdown, many of the calls to us stopped, we heard barely any ringing at all," she said. “It increased again at one point when some restrictions eased, but it’s gone down again. We knew the violence hadn’t stopped, but they were more isolated.”
The online history of the chat session online was automatically erased in order to prevent a partner who monitored online or phone records from seeing the correspondence. MIH encouraged those using the texting service to delete records of contact as well. “It was important for us to offer victims a more discreet and highly secure way to seek help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” MIH executive director Muriel Lalonde said.
The service will launch on Sunday, December 6, to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and Prescott-Russell’s Day Without Violence. MIH said a woman was killed by a spouse or ex-spouse every six days in Canada.
“The message want to send to these women is, you may feel alone, but you’re not alone,” Smith said.
Unsafe at Home can be accessed by visiting unsafeathomepr.ca or texting 613-801-8169. The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Sunday, December 6.