At this time of year there are several significant dates falling within a 16 day period, which offer opportunities to focus on the issue of domestic abuse and violence against women.
The first was Nov. 25, an internationally recognized day of reflection on this concern, while Dec. 6, the anniversary of the Montreal massacre, is a special day of remembrance and action for Canadians.
The 16 days ends with Dec. 10, the United Nations’ Human Rights Day, when the fundamental right to safety and security is a focus.
Although domestic abuse and violence against women has long been a very serious year-round reality, news reports from across Canada and internationally indicate that the pandemic is making the situation much worse for families.
Many of the measures set up to control the spread of COVID-19 are fuelling domestic abuse.
Social isolation, financial issues, restrictions to services and a lack of information are all negatively affecting the safety of women and children.
In the Trail area, the Trail Family and Individual Resources (FAIR) Centre Society has long offered multiple services for women and children affected by domestic violence and abuse.
Despite the pandemic, these services, although sometimes slightly altered by safety protocols, are still freely available and include a 24/7 phone line, a transition house, counselling and legal services support.
While currently it may be especially difficult for women to physically leave an abusive situation, they may at least be able to find a time when they can safely access the WINS Transition House 24/7 phone line (250.364.1543).
Staff are always there to listen, provide information and help create a safety plan.
The WINS Transition House also provides up to 30 days of free shelter and support for women and their children fleeing abuse. While it has had to reduce the numbers of families staying there at any one time, it is still open with safety protocols in place.
Trail FAIR also offers longer term housing and support at very low cost for women and children who have left abusive relationships.
The Nova Vita Second Stage Program provides not only rental accommodation but also counselling and referrals so woman can heal and pull together the necessary resources to move on to more independent living.
The Trail FAIR Centre offers many no-cost additional supportive services, several of which assist women and children who have experienced violence.
These include the Community Based Victims Services program and associated legal clinics which can support an abused woman having to deal with the justice system.
Also available are specialized counselling programs that can help women and their children overcome the painful trauma, loss of self-esteem and other consequences of living day after day with an abuser.
Those seeking these services are asked to call Trail FAIR at 250.364.2326 or email via the website (www.trailfair.ca) so a phone call or face-to-face appointment can be set up.