The numbers tell an undeniable story. And that story is that you already know someone who is experiencing intimate-partner violence, gender-based violence or family violence. You likely know more than one, although you may not realize which girlfriend or family member they are. And that person may be critical need of a clean safe house.
Intimate-partner violence (IPV) in Canada increased for the seventh consecutive year Canada-wide last year.* In 2021, 90 people were killed by an intimate partner, 75% of whom were women and girls. That’s up from 84 people in 20You 20 and 77 people in 2019. Also in 2021, police reported more than 114,000 reports or cases involving “domestic” violence committed by a current or former legally married spouse, common-law partner, dating partner, or other intimate partner. Eight in 10 people who experienced abuse were women or girls.
Family violence is also steadily increasing across Canada, with 2021 marking the fifth consecutive year of increase.* Women and girls represented two-thirds of people experiencing family violence.
Those are just the incidents reported to police. Because most aren’t.**
Think it can’t be you or someone you know and love? Think again.
Physical violence is the overt form of violence women and children may experience at home, but psychological abuse is equally harmful and insidious. It includes jealousy, name-calling, belittling, humiliating and using other put-downs, stalking or harassing behaviours, manipulation, confinement, or property damage, for starters. Sometimes the signs are harder to see. You or someone you know may be experience intimate-partner or family violence if your/their partner or family member:
- Is overly jealous, especially when others are around
- Intentionally breaks or threatens to destroy (person’s) belongings
- Constantly blames (person) when things go wrong
- Hits walls
- Harms or threatens to harm (person’s) pet
- Makes (person) feel like they need permission to leave the house
- Makes (person) ask before spending money
- Makes (person) afraid to say no or express opinions
Hard truth: Holidays aren’t happy for everyone
Experts are reluctant to draw direct causation between alcohol consumption and intimate-partner violence. The story is complicated, layered with mental health issues, socio-economic status, closely-held cultural beliefs, history of abuse, and a host of other potentially contributing factors. However, the World Health Organization reports evidence does suggest alcohol use increases the occurrence and severity of domestic violence.
That makes the holiday season particularly dangerous to women and children involved with abusive partners. As financial and emotional stress builds around Christmas time, so may general alcohol consumption. This puts women and children at more risk inside their own homes, many without the financial resources to plan and pay for a safe, swift exit.
Shelter Movers is a national, volunteer-powered charity that provides moving and storage services to survivors of abuse, so they can leave under safe circumstances (with police escorts, if necessary) and keep their valuables and personal property. They work with community services across Canada to connect with survivors who need their support, and coordinate zero-cost storage space with local business partners to safe-guard their belongings while they live temporarily in shelters. Then, Shelter Movers comes back to help resettle their clients into more permanent secure, clean safe housing.
“It’s really important that once they make the decision (to leave) and they have the supports in place, there’s rapid movement,” Wendy Mitchell, director of the Ottawa chapter of Shelter Movers told the Ottawa Citizen. “We’ll get a call and within a couple of days, we’re moving the person. Done. We’re getting them out the door.”
Everyone deserves a clean safe house: Scrubbi partners with Shelter Movers
This December, Scrubbi aims to fund 75 moves across Canada in collaboration with Shelter Movers. That’s 75 women and many more children who will be able to safely leave their abusive homes and find happier, healthier lives. A portion of sales this month will go directly to Shelter Movers to make this goal a reality. And, for the month of December, Scrubbi will match donations up to $15,000 – doubling the impact of your donation! Together, we can move 150 survivors and their children to a life free from violence.
Next week, we’ll share a personal story from Scrubbi’s manager of people and culture, Amrit Virdi.