British Columbia

Abbotsford police use Valentine's Day to highlight rise in domestic violence

In 2020, Abbotsford police responded to 1,376 calls related to domestic violence. In Vancouver, police say calls from March to May alone rose 12 per cent compared to the same time last year. 

Police across B.C. have noted rise in intimate partner violence during pandemic

This Valentine's Day, police in Abbotsford, B.C., are encouraging victims of domestic violence to seek help. (Shutterstock)

A new campaign from police in Abbotsford, B.C. — timed to coincide with Valentine's Day — is encouraging victims of domestic violence to speak out and seek help.

Police in B.C. have noticed an uptick in intimate partner violence against women during the pandemic. 

Domestic violence can include physical, verbal or sexual abuse between people in a relationship, and Lisa Faria, a detective with the Abbotsford Police Department's  Domestic Violence Unit, says it can also present in same sex and youth couples. 

"Many victims feel very humiliated and embarrassed to talk about the very personal details of what's going on in their relationships, so there's a definite ambivalence to come forward," she said. 

1,376 calls

In 2020, Abbotsford police responded to 1,376 calls related to domestic violence. In 2019, they responded to 1,063 calls and in 2018, they responded to 1,277 calls. 

In Vancouver, police say calls from March to May alone rose 12 per cent compared to the same time last year. 

Ninu Kang, associate executive director of the Ending Violence Association of B.C., says the financial stress, social isolation and additional responsibilities brought on by the pandemic have compounded existing problems.

"In these situations there's a higher chance of domestic violence going up," Kang said.

To encourage women to seek help, Abbotsford police have created a series of Valentine's Day cards with messages like "you knock me off my feet" and "I love you so much it hurts."

"The sentiment on the front of this card is not a metaphor. Someone you may know experiences abuse at the hands of someone they love," the card reads.

Those who need help can call 911 if it's an emergency, or call 604-859-5225 or text 222973 if it's not.

Anyone with questions about how to leave an abusive relationship and the resources available can call the AbbyPD Domestic Violence Unit at 604-864-4845 or email them at askdvu@abbypd.ca. 

With files from Cory Correia

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