Women's Transition House opens second temporary shelter amid surge in domestic abuse

Victoria Women’s Transition House Society has opened a second temporary shelter with expanded capacity to help deal with a dramatic increase in women fleeing domestic abuse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new shelter, opened with the help of $20,000 in financial support from the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, has tripled the number of women and families the group can help, said Howard. “We are grateful to be the beneficiary of such generous support. It helps us do our job.”

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Since the start of the pandemic, the non-profit organization has seen unprecedented demand for access to its 30-day emergency shelter and support services from women and children fleeing domestic violence.

“I have never seen such a demand,” said Susan Howard, spokeswoman for the society. “Our crisis line and emergency shelter have been incredibly busy.”

Howard said the pandemic seems to have exacerbated the challenges of leaving an abusive relationship, with abusive partners becoming more agitated and violent over time.

But the increased demand came at the same time as new safety protocols that limit capacity, she said. “Our shelter can hold 18 women and children, but with pandemic physical-distancing restrictions and health and safety guidelines, we are only able to operate at 60 per cent capacity,” Howard said.

That increased the urgency to open a second Victoria location that would provide safe shelter, food and counselling support to vulnerable women and children.

For more information, go to transitionhouse.net.

HOW TO DONATE

Donate to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund online at ­­­ ­timescolonist.com/donate. That will take you to the Canada Helps website, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.

Or mail a cheque, payable to the Times Colonist ­Christmas Fund Society, to the Times ­Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria V9A 6X5.

Or use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, messages will be accepted.

Donate refundable cans and bottles at Bottle Depot and GFL Environmental.

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