This year has been a difficult one, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting us both here in Canada and around the globe in many ways. From all of us at the Anti-Violence Project, we want you to know that we’re still here for you, and working hard to ensure peer support is available and accessible for survivors of sexualized and gender-based violence and others who are supporting survivors. The pandemic has changed the way we provide support, as working and supporting the community remotely presents different and new challenges as well as opportunities to be more accessible. We’re sad that we cannot support you in person right now in our lovely support room, but we are glad that we can still support the community virtually.
Over the last ten months, the AVP team has transitioned to working remotely from home to continue supporting the community. In March, we began offering peer support remotely over the phone (778-400-5007) and by email (). Recently, we added the option for folks to access support by Zoom video conferencing. Our support services run during our scheduled support hours, Monday to Thursday, 11am to 1pm and 3pm to 5pm, or you can contact us to book an appointment outside of those hours. Our support services will start up again on January 4th when UVic reopens. (If you need support before then, please reach out to the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888.) Our trained support staff can listen to your needs, talk you through different options like reporting, and refer you to other resources in the community if that’s right for you. Though our staff are working from home, they are ensuring that they take calls or video conferencing in quiet and confidential areas where you won’t be disturbed or listened in on.
We also want to acknowledge that the pandemic has created conditions that have made some folks more vulnerable to being targeted by sexualized and gender-based violence, and made support less accessible in some ways. Social distancing and quarantine restrictions can reduce social interaction and connections that are important for accessing support and staying connected. If a survivor is living with a person who is causing them harm, it can feel hopeless and impossible to access support safely. We are also thinking about survivors who face intersectional forms of oppression, including racialized folks, Indigenous folks, trans, two-spirit and gender-nonconforming folks as well as refugees and newcomers. These folks are already living with the impacts of racism, colonialism, and gender-based violence on a daily basis.
We know that we cannot address all the barriers that survivors face when accessing support during this pandemic, but we want to at least acknowledge the barriers and conditions produced by the pandemic combined with the experience of sexualized and gender-based violence, and remind you all that support is available to you at AVP as well as at other organizations across Vancouver Island and Turtle Island (North America).
There might also be things that the AVP team needs to know or do to better support you and the community. We’ve created a short survey in order to learn about what is working and what is not working around accessing support remotely. We hope you will fill it out and help us to make our services more accessible and responsive to the needs of the community.