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Domestic Violence: Barriers Survivors Face In Seeking Help
The average rate for femicides in Quebec are 12 deaths a year, for 2021 there have been 10 deaths so far. With the increase in domestic violence, what barriers are survivors facing from seeking help? In this episode of Local 514, host Savanna Craig explores the issue and what needs to be improved to give more assistance to survivors.
In this episode of Local 514, we look at the rise in domestic violence in Quebec during the pandemic and the barriers survivors face in escaping these situations.
While looking on the outside, it may seem simple to just tell them to leave, however, every case is different. Some face difficulties in leaving including relying on their partner economically, sometimes partners will take the paycheque of the woman to prevent their independence and ability to leave. In other cases these women can be manipulated, threatened and fear for their lives, that if they leave their partner they may be followed, harmed or killed.
In a study conducted by Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale from July to November 2020 — 42 per cent of clients in Quebec women's shelters said they experienced more severe incidents of domestic violence during the first lockdown.
Despite the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic, the government has not expanded their financial support towards emergency domestic violence services.
The Quebec government released the provincial budget last month, committing to invest more than $180 million dollars to support women experiencing domestic violence. As shelters have faced difficulties in catering to the increase in cases and need to comply with physical distancing measures, the government will provide an increase of $4.5 million annually to create more spaces in shelters. The total funding towards shelters will be $22.5 million for the next 5 years, this will be divided between approximately 100 shelters.
Helene, who works for Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale on a first-name basis (for anonymity and safety as survivors of domestic violence fear for their safety as a result of abusive partners sometimes tracking their partner – so she has asked that her name not be published), said Regroupement asked the government for approximately $40 million.
While there are various reasons that may make it difficult for someone to escape domestic violence, the increasing lack of affordability of rent has contributed to this situation.
Last year, rent increased in the greater Montreal area by 4.2 per cent. This is the largest increase since 2003, with projections for rent to grow by 6% within last December to December 2021.
In a survey conducted last fall by Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale, 31% of respondents said the fear of not finding permanent housing following the use of emergency shelters led them to abandon their request for help.
Alliance MH2 says only 66% of women find housing they can afford after leaving the shelter. This contributes to the need of social housing.
The Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, was not available to provide an interview, but said fighting domestic violence is a priority. Charest added that Premier François Legault provided a mandate to vice premier Geneviève Guilbault to assemble a group of ministers who will work together to eradicate violence against women and is said to soon provide concrete actions.