REGINA -- As many follow recommendations to remain home to avoid the spread of COVID-19, Regina shelters and support groups are ensuring that resources remain available for those experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV).

The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) describes IPV as a physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse between intimate partners.

They say isolation can cause more challenges for victims of IPV, who may be working for home.

“For many survivors of violence, work is a time where you can use the phone, you can use the computer safely, it breaks up the time at home and you might have a break,” Crystal Giesbrecht, Director of Research for PATHS said. “You don’t have that time away and it can be very isolating and limiting those chances to reach out for help.”

With job loss and associated stressors impacting many, Giesbrecht says resources for victims are as important as ever.

“In situations where domestic violence is present, stress is ramping up right now. And we might see increased risk,” she said. “We know that unemployment and financial stress are risk factors for increasing domestic violence so that’s something that’s a very real concern.”

The Regina Police Service says COVID-19 has led to an assumption that domestic conflict is increasing in the city.

“That is not necessarily the case; the issue is more complex than can be impacted through simple, sole cause and effect. The Regina Police Service continues to monitor domestic conflict in our city: gathering information, communicating with partners, and identifying any new trends that may affect community safety and service delivery.” RPS spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich said in a statement.

How to help

Geibrecht says that one of the most obvious signs of IPV is the nature of control in the relationship

“When all the aspects of someone’s life are regulated, when a partner is making the big decisions, telling them who they can talk to, telling them where they can do. That’s something that’s a sign, it’s a warning sign something is going on and it’s also a risk factor for serious and severe violence,” she said.

She says that a controlling partner is a cause for concern, but there are safe ways to reach out and provide support.

“Phoning someone and asking yes and no questions, and saying are you okay right now? Do you need me to make some calls for you?” Geisbrecht said. “Checking in with people when we get that opportunity, even if it’s just, ‘are you okay?’, and trying to gauge how they’re doing is something we need to think about.”

She said if someone is considering calling police out of concern for someone's safety, always err on the side of caution.

RPS encourages individuals to call 911 if they are concerned for the safety of a neighbour. Non-emergencies can be reported to police at 306-777-6500.

Resources available

In Regina, shelters remain open and domestic violence services are still operational.

“Many aren’t doing the in-person counselling, it’s over the phone, but it’s all available and you can pick up the phone 24-hours a day,” Geisbrecht said.

She said that finding time to pick up the phone when a partner is in the shower or steps outside is a good way to reach out for help during isolation.

PATHS website lists a number of ways to access resources for victims of IPV.

Click here for a full list of resources recommended by PATHS.

The Regina Police Service has provided a list of resources that remain operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the resources listed are practical strategies like how to clear browser history, so victims can feel safe while researching resources. RPS provides help for safety planning, warning signs, reporting to police, how peace bonds work and domestic violence court.