In the face of natural disasters, we often come together to provide aid, shelter and resources to one another. Nova Scotia has faced its fair share of natural disasters, in most recent months wildfires and major flooding. Amidst the chaos and devastation, there is another hidden crisis that also requires immediate attention: gender based violence during and after natural disasters, which brings a whole different set of challenges.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the effects that natural disasters can have on gender based violence and how organizations such as Shelter Movers can support.
The Overlooked Crisis
Whether it is a hurricane, earthquake, wildfire or flood, natural disasters disrupt lives, communities, and systems of support. Survivors of gender based violence often face heightened risks and vulnerability during crises, which often intensifies pre-existing abuse. The isolation, lack of resources and limited access to support can exacerbate the impact on survivors and ultimately make it more difficult for someone to flee or seek help.
Understanding The Impact
- Disrupted communication – Natural disasters often lead to damaged infrastructure, such as telecommunication networks, making it difficult for survivors to reach out for the support they need.
- Increased stress and tension — Facing situations such as flooding or wildfires, like the ones we have encountered in recent months, can result in increased stress and trauma stemming from these natural disasters. This heightened emotional strain can potentially escalate tensions within families, thereby exacerbating the risks of gender based violence.
- Limited access to resources – Places where survivors might seek for support or shelter might have been affected by the disasters, making it difficult for survivors to find safe haven.
- Financial stability – Disasters can result in job loss or economic instability, making it more challenging and difficult for survivors to break free from gender based violence.
- Sheltering in place – During the flooding in late July, residents were ordered to shelter-in-place. This means finding a safe location indoors and staying there until given an “all clear” or told to evacuate. This serves to isolate survivors with their abuser for an unknown length of time.
- Separation of family members – As we often see with wildfires, evacuation orders are sometimes needed when faced with natural disasters. These evacuations can magnify the challenges for survivors of gender-based violence as family separation disrupts vital support networks. Separated from their familial support, survivors may experience increased isolation and heightened vulnerability to further abuse.
How Organizations like Shelter Movers Can Help
Organizations such as Shelter Movers stand as a beacon of support, ensuring that survivors of gender-based violence receive the support they need to transition to a better, safer life and that includes during times of crises. Shelter Movers continues to show compassion and unwavering dedication, to ensure that survivors have the necessary resources and safe spaces they need to rebuild their lives. Shelter Movers not only aids in the physical transition but also provides a lifeline of hope, proving that even in the darkest moments, empowerment and safety can prevail.
Natural disasters not only wreak havoc on physical infrastructure but also expose the vulnerabilities within our social support systems, especially for survivors of gender based violence. Non-profit organizations play an invaluable role in bridging the gap between disaster relief and the specific needs of survivors, ensuring that no one is left behind during these challenging times.
As a society, we must recognize the unique challenges faced by survivors during and after natural disasters. By supporting and amplifying the efforts of non-profit organizations, we can collectively create a safer and more compassionate environment for those in need. Together, let’s strengthen our commitment to helping individuals break free from abuse and rebuild their lives with hope and resilience.
To learn more about the intricacies between natural disasters and gender based violence, click on one of the links below
- Extreme events and gender-based violence: a mixed-methods systematic review
- Women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence in the aftermath of disasters
- Natural hazards, disasters and violence against women and girls: a global mixed-methods systematic review
If you or someone you know are experiencing gender based violence, reach out to your nearest shelter or Shelter Movers to receive support. A list of Nova Scotia gender based violence shelters can be found here: https://thans.ca/our-shelters-2/