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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society has seen an increase in domestic violence cases coming through their doors since the beginning of the pandemic.

Family Law Advocate, Telitha Nielsen, says the organization’s domestic violence statistics are always higher in January and February. There are several contributing factors to the increase in cases during this timeframe, especially this year, with families being asked to stay home for more extended periods of time.

“We just had Christmas; finances might be a little bit lower. But not only that, now we’re in a pandemic, people are being put in lockdown together, kids might be there 24/7 stressing out the family, there might be substance use,” says Nielsen.

According to Stats Canada, data in March and April 2020 suggested that 1 in 10 women in Canada were concerned about the possibility of violence in the home early in the COVID-19 pandemic. It also states women are victimized at a much higher rate than men — 37 incidents per 1,000 women, compared to five per 1,000 men.

Domestic violence cases were happening regularly long before the pandemic, and Nielsen says raising awareness about the city’s supports can prevent or get someone out of a violent situation.

“I always suggest calling 911. But not only that, having those conversations with people, are they ready to leave, they might be terrified, they might be getting threats.”

Local supports assist the transition from getting a victim out of domestic situations, such as the Meaope Transition House—a 24-hour service.

“There are Victim Services, there’s the Women’s Resource where we help women fleeing abuse, who are low income. I think having conversations with people is really important.”

The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that a woman in Canada is killed by their partner approximately every six days. Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women.

On February 8th, 22-year-old Amanda Black was found dead by Fort St. John RCMP. Family friends started a GoFundMe to cover the legal, funeral and travel expenses for Black’s family.

The fundraiser page states Black was a victim of domestic violence.

The loss of Black happened the same week as the annual Moose Hide Campaign— a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous males who are standing up against violence towards women and children.

Domestic violence resources can be accessed by visiting the FSJ Women’s Resource Society website, calling 2-1-1, or calling or texting VictimLink BC at 1-800- 563-0808.

For the full conversation with Telitha Nielsen about domestic violence cases, and Lisa Jewell, Outreach & Housing Coordinator, about the overdose crisis watch the Moose Talks interview below:

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