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Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 on Gender-Based Violence Services and Survivors in Canada

The conditions created by the pandemic were ones that were widely recognized by advocates as likely to increase the risk of violence while at the same time making it more difficult for those experiencing violence to seek help – especially given the pre-existing challenges facing the already overburdened and under-resourced gender-based violence sector. Today, we release the findings from a national survey that provides an account of the challenges facing sexual assault centres, shelters, transition houses and other anti-violence organizations during the pandemic as told from the perspective of those on the frontlines.

With responses from 376 service providers and volunteers who offered compelling and vulnerable accounts of the challenges they faced and continue to face in providing services to survivors of gender-based violence, this report tells the story of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the words of these service providers on the “shadow pandemic” of violence against women and gender-based violence. It includes insights into what happens when those two pandemics collided, both in terms of rates and severity of violence, but also all the ways the sector adapted and formulated actions that are necessary in moving forward to meet the needs of survivors and the organizations that support them.

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Download Executive Summary (French)

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Indigenous Acknowledgement

Anova acknowledges the Indigenous peoples on whose traditional territory we gather and work. They are made up of the Anishinaabe Peoples who consist of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatami Nations; the Haudenosaunee Peoples who include the Oneida; and the Leni-Lunaape peoples, also referred to as the Delaware or Munsee. We also recognize the First Nations within the Middlesex-London area: Chippewas of the Thames First Nation; Oneida Nation of the Thames; and Munsee-Delaware Nation. There are many longstanding treaty relationships between Indigenous Nations and Canada. We recognize that all levels of government in Canada have a responsibility to honour these Nation-to-Nation relationships, and that individually, we all have a role to play in honouring the treaties, and contributing to reconciliation.

Miigwetch, Yaw^ko, Anishiik