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Domestic violence calls up in Saskatoon: police, shelter officials

Tanya Wiggins, executive director with Saskatoon Interval House, says they are working hard to support more and more people fleeing domestic violence this year as COVID-19 restrictions limit capacity for shelters.

She explained that the pandemic has caused many people to essentially be trapped at home with their abusers, often limiting opportunities to reach out for help.

“Initially when it happened we actually saw a decrease in the number of calls that we received, which was very alarming,” Wiggins said.

Read more: Sask RCMP to disclose info to potential domestic violence victims under ‘Clare’s Law’

Now, the Saskatoon Interval House is trying to keep up with the increasing calls for help, offering temporary hotel stays at an undisclosed location to those they don’t have room for in shelters.

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Saskatoon police confirm calls for domestic violence are on the rise as the pandemic continues.

Between January and September, their reports show 4,635 domestic calls compared to 5,198 total in 2019 and 6,450 in 2020.

Read more: Key finding in Sask. study on domestic violence victims who own pets

In a statement, the Saskatoon Police Service said a newer concern is the timeliness of calls from victims or family and friends.

It added the most disturbing part is the rise in assaults being investigated after the fact, when domestic calls for service are not made.

SPS is encouraging people to come forward with suspicions as soon as possible to keep loved ones safe.

“If someone has concerns, they can contact the SPS to do a ‘welfare check’ if they suspect domestic violence taking place.  That call can be taken anonymously, and patrol officers can be sent out to check on the situation,” the statement read.

Read more: Saskatoon woman donates $100K to YWCA for International Women’s Day

The Saskatoon Interval House is partnering with Shoppers Drug Mart to raise much-needed funds and keep up with the growing numbers.

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“Programs like this definitely give us a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of knowing we are going to be able to offer support,” Wiggins said.

Donations can be made at Saskatoon Shoppers Drug Mart locations until Nov. 5.

Read more: Domestic violence, mental health calls up, violent crimes down amid pandemic: Saskatoon police

“You can opt to donate and pay at the till when you are already purchasing your items at Shoppers, and then all of the proceeds from that come directly back to Interval House,” Wiggins explained.

She is hopeful people will be able to chip in whatever they can at the till to help some of the most vulnerable in the community.

Key finding in Sask. study on domestic violence victims who own pets – Sep 22, 2021