According to the United Nations (UN), 1 in 3 women worldwide experiences physical or sexual violence that is mostly inflicted by an intimate partner. This means that in Canada and around the world, the most dangerous place for women and children can be their own homes. Unfortunately, the UN also reports that survivors have limited information, awareness about, and access to available support services. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the incidence of violence against women has significantly increased at a time in which essential services such as domestic violence shelters and helplines are overburdened. This is referred to as the “shadow pandemic” and is made worse by the fact that in many areas, resources to combat this issue have been diverted to provide immediate COVID-19 relief.
In recognition of the shadow pandemic, Myles Ahead has created an information package for those fleeing an abusive situation. This package includes location-specific resources available to support the psychological and emotional healing journey for caregivers and their children. Resources include emergency crisis lines, single-session counselling, ongoing support services for survivors and their children, general mental health supports, and funding assistance for First Nations and Inuit children. All resources included in the packages have been vetted by Myles Ahead to ensure they are readily accessible in terms of wait times, correct contact information, method of referral, services offered (including whether crisis services/immediate support is available), the age range served, and any COVID-19 related changes.
The information packages created by Myles Ahead will be disseminated by Shelter Movers. Shelter Movers is a national volunteer-powered charitable organization offering moving and storage services at no cost to women and their children who seek their support. You Are Not Alone packages have been tailored for Shelter Mover operations in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Waterloo. Additionally, Myles Ahead researched and vetted resources available in Barrie and Simcoe County in response to a request from the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie.
The goal of this initiative is to provide caregivers leaving intimate partner violent relationships with the information in hand to reach out to systems of support available for their psychological and emotional healing journey. Myles Ahead will continue to adapt the information packages for local shelters and related charities across Canada and will create more packages as Shelter Movers expands its areas of operations.