On this, the 31st anniversary of the violent act at Polytechnique Montréal that claimed the lives of 14 women, we pause to remember all those we’ve lost to gender-based violence in Canada.
Each year, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women reminds us of the ongoing need to invest in programs and services that support victims of intimate partner violence and those trying to escape it. With the increase in gender-based violence we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, this need has never been greater.
The constraints of COVID-19 mean that many victims have been forced to spend more time at home with their abusers, adding to the stifling isolation that is often at the heart of abusive relationships. Social outlets that once offered some reprieve have been largely reduced to phone calls and video chats, which can rob abuse victims of the privacy they might have had to make safer arrangements.
If you or someone you know is living in an abusive home, our tips and resources sheet offers helpful information on safety planning and self-care. We also encourage everyone to learn the Violence at Home Signal for Help, which allows a victim to ask for help when an abuser is present.
While anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship, women account for almost 80 per cent of those being victimized. They are also more likely to experience its long-term effects — including depression, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, and problematic substance use. Yet we can all help break this cycle by fighting against the stigma that leads so many to stay silent.
Just as there is no shame in experiencing a mental illness, there is no shame in being the victim of abuse. No one should suffer in secret, and with the right support and continued investment, they won’t have to. As we pause to reflect on those we’ve lost to gender-based violence, we can all take steps to help current victims walk the long road to survivorship.
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org