MEDIA RELEASE: Partner abuse remains major threat during COVID-19 second wave
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, St. Joseph’s Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program urges those in danger to reach out
London Ontario – As wave two of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes increasingly turbulent, so too do the lives of those in abusive relationships.
Domestic violence has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a major global public health and women’s health threat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Home isolation, while vital to the fight against the pandemic, is giving still more power to the abuser and shattering support networks, making it far more difficult for victims to get help or escape, explains Cassandra Fisher, Coordinator of St. Joseph’s Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program (SADVTP).
Throughout the pandemic, the SADVTP has continued to provide care, “but as people have become more comfortable coming into the hospital system, we are seeing our numbers climb,” says Fisher.
Since July, there has been steady overall increase of 12 per cent in face-to-face visits to the SADVTP compared to the same period to last year, and a 24 per cent increase in phone calls.
Globally, one in three women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. During the pandemic, the risks are greater than ever. In addition to physical violence, which is not present in every abusive relationship, common tools of abuse include: isolation from friends, family and employment; constant surveillance; strict, detailed rules for behavior; and restrictions on access to such basic necessities as food, clothing and sanitary facilities.
The specialized team of nurses, doctors and social workers at St. Joseph’s SADVTP is available 24/7, virtually and in person. A nurse is onsite at St. Joseph’s Hospital at all times who is specially trained to support those who have experienced an acute sexual assault and/or domestic violence. Care and support are offered to individuals of all ages, sexual orientation or gender identity – at the time of the assault and in the months following. There are many options for care and each individual can choose what he or she wants to do.
“You will find a non-judgmental caring environment that will support you in your decision making process,” says Fisher. “If home is not a safe place, we urge you to reach out. We are here to help.”
Download Social Media Infographics: Domestic violence – a major threat during COVID-19
For more information:
Dahlia Reich, Communication Consultant
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Office: 519.646.6100 ext. 65294, Cell: 519 619-0971
About St. Joseph’s Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program
The Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program at St. Joseph’s Hospital provides care in the region for women, children and men who have experienced sexual assault/sexual abuse and/or domestic violence. A team of specialized nurses, doctors and social workers are available 24/7 to provide care at the time of the assault and in the months following the incident. Depending on the nature of the assault and the time since the assault, numerous services are offered:
- Medical treatment and follow up care
- Forensic collection
- Safety planning
- Referral to supporting community agencies
- Primary care
- Consultation with other health care professionals
- Support with contacting police services
- Support contacting victim services
- Education and presentations to community agencies and schools
To access the program:
- Call the program at any time, day or night, at 519-646-6100, ext. 64224
- Go to St. Joseph’s Urgent Care Centre or any emergency department in London, Middlesex, Oxford, or Elgin Counties and ask to speak to the nurse on call for sexual assault/domestic violence.
About St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of: chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery. St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. For more information, visit www.sjhc.london.on.ca.