Launch of an online chat and texting service for women victims of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA – We have been asked to “stay home and stay safe” during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for some, home is not a safe place.

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly has publicly stated that he concerned about reduced calls on domestic violence.

“Reports of abuse are concerning because we know it is continuing and possibly increasing,” Sloly said.

A new tool to support survivors of domestic violence is now online.

The Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) has partnered with Crime Prevention Ottawa, Interval House Ottawa and the Eastern Ottawa Resource Center to launch a new service called “Unsafe at Home Ottawa ”.

“The service was created for those who may find it impossible to reach by calling a crisis line when trapped at home with their attacker due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures,” said Erin Leigh, Executive Director of OCTEVAW. in a press release. “We want to make sure women have access to the services they need.

Unsafe at Home Ottawa is available seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to midnight. It has secure and encrypted technology to keep conversations confidential and secure. Users will be put in touch with qualified advisers who will provide support, referrals and advice in English or French.

Online chats are erased as soon as each conversation ends, but the service recommends that users only sign in from a device that they know is safe to use. Users are recommended to clear their browser history after chatting and delete texts if they are using the text service.

“Unsafe at Home Ottawa is designed with your safety in mind. However, nothing is 100% secure. have spyware installed on the device you are using, you may not want to use that service, ”a note on the site said.

Anyone in immediate danger is always asked to dial 9-1-1.

In March, the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Sections and Partners of the Ottawa Police Service urged people to remain vigilant about the potential for abuse of women and children, as they may be even more isolated due to physical distancing and self-isolation measures.

The Ottawa Police Service has a list of community resources and information from the domestic violence section available on its website.

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