How the economic downturn can affect domestic violence

After a year of economic stress, the prospect of a recession is cause for concern among advocates of efforts to end gender-based violence, who fear growing economic tensions. Increases for Canadians will only intensify the invisible pandemic that is happening to victims of domestic abuse.

Since the pandemic hit in 2020, cases of domestic violence have steadily increased in Canada as police reports show an increase in violence against different groups of women and children when people are isolated at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meseret Haileyesus, founder of the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE), said these worrying trends could intensify as Canadians, especially women, continue to grapple with the cost of childbirth. increasing activity, affecting their ability to pay for basic necessities.

“As the cost of living goes up, their (women’s) purchasing power decreases, which means they can’t afford anything and especially if the family is financially abusive, the this woman [can be] can’t even afford tampons,” Haileyesus told in a phone interview on Friday.

While the economic crisis does not cause domestic violence, Haileyesus says that problems like unemployment can lead to this abuse, similar to a pandemic where abusers stay at home more often or are stressed. economic instability can lead to more conflicts.

In a study conducted by CCFWE, 80% of victims said their abusers were more controlling and exhibiting manipulative behavior during economic turmoil in 2020 during the pandemic. In addition, 93% of women said their abuser would keep the money they needed to pay for food and clothing and other necessities.

Similarly, a 2016 study analyzing domestic violence patterns during the 2008-2009 Great Recession in the US found that men reported anxiety and uncertainty during the economic downturn, for whether they were unemployed or not, were more likely to exhibit controlling behavior towards their wives. romantic partner.


Colleen Varcoe, a professor and researcher on violence and inequality at the University of British Columbia, said domestic violence will only continue to increase due to the economic downturn if changes and policies are not made to victim support.

“This is not about bad individuals, this is about a systemic situation in which violence strikes the most vulnerable in our society, whether it is women, children, or young people. children, transgender or elderly,” Varcoe told in an interview. Webcam interview on Friday.

“These dynamics will only make the situation worse for the most disadvantaged, and it affects everyone differently depending on their social circumstances, so the less resources you have.” economically, the more you’ll be affected.”

In 2022, a parliamentary report by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women made 28 recommendations for government action on the lack of financial freedom that leads to gender-based violence.

Haileyesus said these recommendations include putting in place policies around the workplace or within banking and telecommunications institutions to provide support and options for victims to escape abuse without a doubt. safe way.

“We need comprehensive policies to strengthen women’s job security, [which] contribute to reducing domestic violence. It must be tailored to the women’s circumstances, to the survivors’ circumstances because the current support system for domestic violence survivors is inadequate, even in times of pandemic, ” she said.

Haileyesus says many women have their credit damaged by an abuser leaving them without a financial backup, or because they are financially cut off and unable to pay their phone bills, which can make them unable to contact them. with any support system.


“Victims of domestic abuse may feel encouraged to stay with their abuser during a financial crisis,” says Haileyesus, which is why it is important to prepare them to leave their circumstances. safely, both physically and financially.

“We encourage women to have a safe outlet not only physically but also economically because once your credit is destroyed by an abuser and the cost of living is very high, it is even difficult to qualified to buy an apartment otherwise they would have been in that condition.” she speaks.

First, by reaching out to anyone they can trust for help, Haileyesus recommends talking to a credit bureau or bank to discuss their financial situation and whether the fraudster whether they interfere with their funds by abusing credit or stealing electronic signatures.

“Financial and economic abuse is the worst and most terrible form of violence, [an] a woman’s entire life because the point is, even if the abuser isn’t around, if you file bankruptcy two or three times your life can be ruined,” she said.

As for individual and community support, Varcoe says providing financial support to abuse victims directly to them or through community services can be life-changing.

The economic downturn has placed significant strain on shelters and food banks across the country, so donations and support for regional and provincial policies to fund health services are limited. This service can help those affected.

Not judging abuse victims can also help continue discussions about domestic violence and gender inequality, says Varcoe.

“I think the dramatic increase in violence against women that we’ve seen in the COVID era can only get worse unless we really focus on not just economic recovery,” Varcoe said. economy, but also pay special attention to gender equality”.

Find domestic violence resources and services in your area.

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