Due to restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Halton, Ont has seen an uptick of domestic violence.
According to Halton Regional Police, officers responded to 343 calls regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) and laid 206 IPV charges in the first month of 2021 — a 142% increase compared to last year.
Halton Police warned that they could be responding to as many as 4000 IPV calls by the end of the year if the trend continues.
“Tragically, January is not an anomaly,” Halton Police said in a statement. “Our analyses indicate that this is a continuation of a trend of an increasing frequency and severity of intimate partner violence incidents in the community over the course of the pandemic.”
Halton Regional Police are urging community members to look out for neighbours, relatives, friends and co-workers, especially if they may not be safe at home.
Because of lockdown restrictions, many victim services locations in Canada were forced to close, with staff working from home and offering support services remotely. This has led to medical experts speaking out and several organizations raising the alarm about increases in domestic violence.
Victim services in Canada have reported a 92% decline to in-person counselling as they shifted to alternative methods to adhere to health restrictions.
Research has shown that social isolation, loss of employment and reduced income contribute to increased risks of IPV.
Further, increased stress from lockdowns, school and childcare closures and confinement at home could lead to increased tensions within homes with very few opportunities to escape abusive situations or report them.
Although there are many challenges under imposed restrictions, victim services are still available.