The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Quebecers to practice self-isolation and social distancing. In this context, there may be increased incidents of domestic violence and victims may feel even more isolated.
If you a victim of domestic violence, or you know someone who is, here’s some important information.
Help is still available
Call 911 if you fear for your safety or you know someone who needs immediate assistance. Even if you do not say anything to the 911 operator when you make the call, the police will visit the home from which the call was made.
If you are working remotely and you experience domestic violence, you can speak to your colleagues or work.
You can still leave your home
The government has banned all types of gatherings and strongly recommend that people stay home. However, people can still go outside and visit certain public places. If you are the victim of domestic violence, or you believe you are in danger of violence, you have the right to leave your home even if it’s after curfew.
Services are still available
Services to assist victims of domestic violence continue to function during the pandemic. Emergency assistance lines are open, and women’s shelters are open.
SOS violence conjugale
Contact SOS violence conjugale if you are the victim of domestic violence or you know someone who may be in danger. The people answering will offer information, support and referral to resources that can help you. You can reach SOS violence conjugale at 1-800-363-9010 at any time.
Despite the pandemic, shelters are open across Quebec to receive victims of domestic violence as well as their children. Shelters have adopted strict rules to prevent infection from spreading. For example, some shelters require that new arrivals remain in isolation for 14 days and some provide sealed-off rooms for people showing symptoms of Covid-19.
To find a shelter, call SOS violence conjugale or consult the list of shelters of the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale (coalition of women’s shelters) or the la Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes (federation of women’s shelters – both websites are in French only).
If you do not want to call from home you could, for example, make the call while you are out of the house for a walk or to buy groceries.
You can contact Juripop if you experience domestic violence and you need legal advice. They offer 20-minute free phone consultations, and your call is confidential. They can help if you have questions about things like custody or how to leave your house.
You can call Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm at 1-855-587-4767. If you can’t call, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can call when you go out for a walk or while going out to shop.
Are you elegible for legal aid?
Legal aid provides low income people with the services of a lawyer for free or at a low cost. Eligibility for legal aid depends on several factors, in particular your income and assets.
For more information see: Legal Aid: Do I Qualify?
Financial help is available
Some victims may be hesitant to leave their home if they are unsure how they will support themselves. A number of special programs are in place to provide financial assistance during the pandemic. Consult the “Compensation Programs” section of our Covid-19 Web Guide for more information on these programs. Quebec’s regular program of social assistance (welfare) remains available as well.
How to assist a victim of domestic violence
Try to remain in regular contact with them (for example via telephone calls or text messages). Without putting pressure on them, show that you are there to help. Isolation is already a severe problem for victims of domestic violence and the current Covid-19 confinement measures make them even more vulnerable.
Inform the victim of the different services available to assist them. Tell them to call 911 in case of emergency or to go to the hospital in case of injury. If you believe someone is in imminent danger or needs immediate assistance, call 911 yourself.
Contact the Director of Youth Protection (DYP) for your region if you believe that a child’s security or development is in danger. You don’t have to be 100% certain the child is in danger to report a situation to the DYP. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You can make an anonymous report to the DYP.