‘Staggering’ number of women seeking help for domestic violence: LAWC

The London Abused Women’s Centre at 797 York Street. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Demand for help from the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) has skyrocketed throughout the pandemic.

The agency that assists women living in violent situations provided support to 9,235 women and girls over the past year. That included a 45 per cent increase in those seeking assistance through LAWC’s urgent services support program – a rise the centre calls “staggering.”

“The United Nations and the World Health Organization declare violence against women a shadow pandemic of COVID-19 and the London community has not been spared,” the agency said in a statement issued on Friday.

With various lockdowns in place since the pandemic began, women have been forced to stay at home with abusive partners, which can make seeking help more difficult. Of the more than 9,000 women and girls who sought help from LAWC last year, 5,400 of them did so by phone.

The agency has also provided services to 820 sexually exploited women and girls this year. London is among several cities along the Highway 401 and 402 corridors considered to be a sex trafficking hub. The Blackburn News Podcast recently examined the issue of sex trafficking across southwestern Ontario. To hear the three-part series click here.

“Through this crisis of men’s violence against women in the London community and beyond, we remain focused on providing immediate access to service for every woman and girl who reaches out to our agency. This means, no wait list,” reassured LAWC Associate Executive Director Jennifer Dunn.

She added that the agency has hired four additional employees to provide front-line service. The new hires were made possible through donations from the community and new funding awarded to the centre.

“The staff team at the London Abused Women’s Centre has been working hard over the last year and the London community has been unwavering in their support of us,” said Dunn.