Abuse can be hidden in plain sight.
The Kelowna Women’s Shelter is launching a new initiative to shed light on the less visible aspects of domestic abuse.
The Shelter’s campaign will have billboards bringing awareness to psychological abuse posted around Kelowna. They will also be publishing blogs on their website and social media explaining the hidden signs of psychological abuse.
“The overall goal is that people will get curious and start asking questions,” said Candace Homan, communications coordinator at the Women’s Shelter.
The Kelowna shelter reported that they saw an increase in the severity of abuse over the pandemic.
“We see you, we hear you, we know you’re there and we’re here to support,” said Allison Mclauchlan, executive director of the Kelowna Women’s Shelter.
Mclauchlan said that the campaign was initiated because women told them that “they feel invisible.”
The shelter hopes to shift society’s concept of abuse away from “stereotypical physical abuse,” to focus on the “invisible” psychological aspects of abuse.
She said that if you suspect the slightest thing, always ask and offer support.
However, Mclauchlan warned that it is imperative to keep the victim’s safety and best interest at the forefront of any intervention.
She explained that it can be dangerous for survivors when people catch a glimpse, which is why abuse is often well concealed.
She said that abusers can become angry and lash out when they feel that there is a loss of control over their victim.
“Women are at most risk of being killed when they leave an abusive relationship,” said Mclauchlan.
She explained that abuse can escalate from psychological to physical when the abuser fears they are losing their grasp of their victim.