By helping to evacuate the homes of victims of domestic violence, Transit Secours volunteers aim to remove one of the obstacles faced by those trying to escape their abuser. The organization is well on its way to establishing its first chapter in the Moncton area of New Brunswick.
Transit Secours offers a free moving and storage service to those leaving an abusive spouse. The organization, which has nearly 2,000 volunteers in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal, Waterloo and Vancouver, is preparing to expand its work to Greater Moncton starting this fall.
Rene Sharon, who is responsible for organizing the expansion of activities in the region, hopes to see the first steps in mid-November. To do that, he’ll need to collect more donations and get financial help, which he hopes to receive from the city of Moncton.
Clients are referred by YWCA Moncton, Crossroads for Women and Harvest House Atlantic Shelter, with whom partnerships have been established. The victim and their children, if any, will be taken to a shelter or other safe place. His belongings are stored for free until he finds alternative accommodation.
“At the beginning, before increasing this number, we are going to make eight to ten moves per month. The three organizations we are starting with have estimated their needs at 25 moves per month,” says Renee Sharon.
“It should ease them up and help them focus on their mission.”
This accompaniment is all the more important in his eyes because the risk of homicide between intimate partners increases when the victim tries to leave his spouse. This outreach also helps reduce financial insecurity, which often leaves women feeling they have no choice but to stay with their abusers.
“We provide emotional support. “Survivors often find themselves isolated from society, it strengthens the women to know that four people with boxes are with them,” says the coordinator.
“We help them take the next step on the path to a life without violence.”
If the situation requires, the movers will be accompanied by security guards. If the risk level is too high, the RCMP may be called to assist.
“Most of our moves are planned a week or two in advance, but we’ve had cases where the mover is at work and we have four hours to do it,” explains René Charon.
She hopes that the service can be extended to many communities in the region. He said the need is extremely high because New Brunswick has the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the east of the country.
Volunteers are required to undergo a criminal background check and training. About twenty residents have already completed this process, and about sixty have expressed interest.
Several companies have already pledged to support the project: U-Haul will offer discounted car rentals, AppleSelfStorage will provide some storage, and Shadow Security will offer free security services.
From 1999 to 2018, there were 52 homicides related to domestic violence in New Brunswick.
In 2019, according to Statistics Canada, police services across the province reported 2,149 cases of domestic violence. This data remains incomplete as it does not include the Saint-Jean police.