Quebec has seen large numbers of female homicide victims in 2021, highlighting a disturbing situation that many call a crisis.

Advocates, however, say that when it comes to domestic abuse, women living with disabilities have long been ignored.

“I’m really concerned about women with disabilities,” said Sandra Gualtieri, a woman with cerebral palsy who has had a successful relationship for decades.

However, she is concerned about women with disabilities who are not as lucky as she is due to limited resources to help them.

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The first obstacle, he pointed out, is the police who are called in a crisis.

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“They really don’t know how to deal with [women with disabilities]”He noted, adding that there should be more training for law enforcement agencies.

Linda Gauthier, president of Regroupement Activisites Pour L’inclusion Quebec (RAPLIQ), a community group that advocates for people with disabilities, agrees, noting that there is no guide to how police officers should help.

She raised the problem of how someone in a wheelchair, like her, would be transported to a shelter. Where would the wheelchair go?

“My wheelchair [is] my legs, ”he stressed. “So if they leave it with [an abusive] husband, I will have nothing to help me where I go.

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“Many shelters are not accessible or adapted to their needs,” he noted. “We are at least twice as likely to be abused as women without disabilities.”

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According to Martine Lévesque, assistant professor in the rehabilitation faculty at the University of Montreal medical school, it is difficult to know the exact number of women who are abused in Quebec, because there is no system to track them.

“It is a difficult situation,” he said. “We know that violence is there and that women remain in these situations due to lack of response from the system.”

Gauthier is in talks with some law enforcement services about how they can improve.

In an email statement to Global News, Montreal Police wrote: “The Montreal City Police Service (SPVM) reiterates its commitment to fighting domestic violence, especially for people with disabilities.

“In addition, we are working to better equip our police force on this matter and a process is underway. We are already in contact with the Regroupement des activistes pour l’Inclusion au Québec (RAPLIQ) and presentations are planned ”.

Both Gauthier and Gualtieri hope to see changes in a short time.

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If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, there are resources available. In an emergency, call 911 for immediate help.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, the SPVM has a list of available resources and advice on to do.

For victims and children

Conjugate violence SOS
Listen, orientation and referral, in French and English.
Multilingual site
1-800 363-9010, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Text: 438-601-1211, from 2:30 pm to 10 pm

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Athena’s Shield
Support for women from ethnocultural communities who are victims of domestic violence and their children, and translation and interpretation services.
514-274-8117 or 1-877 274-8117 (Montreal)

Federation of Women’s Shelters

Household regrouping for women victims of domestic violence

For men

An alternative to domestic and family violence

A confidential professional therapy program for men who have resorted to violence in their domestic or family relationships.

Help for men who have problems in their relationship.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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