(Pixabay)

(Pixabay)

Sexual violence at home during pandemic skyrockets, say Kelowna experts

During January, Sexual Assault Awareness Month events are going virtual

January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month but due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, events usually hosted to promote the message have had to go virtual.

But that doesn’t mean the events, which focus on violence faced at home, will go unnoticed.

Organizers with the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society (COEFS) and UBCO’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) said this is especially important now, as calls for service have increased.

COEFS victim services worker and team lead Samantha said since the pandemic started and more people have had to stay home, the number of people calling in to ask for help and those using their services have skyrocketed.

“Just this past summer, especially in July, we’ve seen some of our highest numbers ever,” she said.

“Our numbers are skyrocketing and have pretty much stayed consistent since then… we also see an increase during the holidays, especially in January, and we’re seeing that now.”

She said that overall, they’ve seen at least a 30% increase in new clients coming to COEFS for help.

Samantha said now more than ever, it is important to highlight issues of sexual assault especially as many people aren’t able to physically check in on their friends and family because of the pandemic.

“We need to shed a light on this… because sometimes, those in your bubble, those you’re isolating with, they’re the ones who are abusing you.”

She added this is why it’s important to make sure you have a select group of trusted people with who you know you can talk about your situation. Another tip she gave is having a code word with your safe group that will let them know what you need when you need it.

“But it’s just all so individualized so it’s hard to say that there’s a one-size-fits-all way to get out of an abusive situation.”

“Another big thing is to get connected to resources like us, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter, Mamas for Mamas, and other places like this. We will listen to your specific situation and come up with a unique plan that would be safe for you,” Samantha said.

And if you suspect that your friend or loved one may have been assaulted or may be in an abusive relationship, Samantha said the best thing you can do is be there for them, listen to their story, and help them connect to resources.

Another important thing to do is to learn ways on how to prevent sexual violence as well.

For more information on sexual violence and UBCO’s virtual events, visit SVPRO’s website.

To access help through the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society, you can call them at 250-763-4613. More information can be found on their website.

READ: ‘We are making a stand’: Kelowna church will continue to gather, despite RCMP fine


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

sexual abuse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)
Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-governance wishes

Preliminary designs of the new West Kelowna city hall, which is about to begin the design phase. (City of West Kelowna)
West Kelowna to choose architect for design of new city hall, library

The project is projected to cost $18M by the time it is completed in winter, 2022

(Pixabay photo)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines of the week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

After a Vernon resident tried to domesticate a pair of gopher snakes, BC Conservation Service reminded that it is against the law to keep wild animals in one’s possession. (Yuval Levy/Unsplash)
Wild gopher snakes aren’t pets: Vernon conservation officer

After resident kept two gopher snakes in home, conservation reminds it’s illegal to domesticate wildlife

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read