Intimate partner violence has increased by over 25 percent in Canada since the coronavirus pandemic began. With many still quarantined in their homes, women are effectively trapped with their abusers, with limited ways to get help.  Interval House, Canada’s longest-running shelter for women survivors of abuse and their children, has partnered with creative agency UNION, to create a secret website and covertly help Canadians experiencing domestic violence during the pandemic.

The Way to Live: A Style Guide for the Modern Woman” looks like a beauty and fashion website upon first glance. However, if you hold down the escape key, the site changes to “The Way to Leave: An Escape Plan for the Abused Woman.” Articles about “essentials for everyday life” and “signs your dry skin needs help” transition into into articles about “essentials when running for your life” and “signs you’re being abused and need help.”

“It’s the perfect storm,” said Fazia Mohammed, community programs manager at Interval House in a press statement, of the correlation between stay-at-home orders and those in abusive relationships. “Women are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than ever, and it’s also harder than ever for them to reach out for help. This site is a way to get them the information they need, secretly and safely.”

Women are unable to Google “signs of abuse” or “how to leave an abusive relationship,” if their abusers are constantly monitoring them. For the same reasoning, the Canadian Women’s Foundation  recently launched the Signal for Help initiative – a one-handed sign anyone can use over video to indicate they require assistance.

The Interval House site is a great reference for women trying to leave their abusive homes and includes resources on signs of abuse, how to pack an emergency bag, tips on disabling GPS tracking and the Interval House crisis line.

“We know that abusers are constantly monitoring their partners’ online activity, but on the surface, this site looks just like any other lifestyle blog,” said Mohammed. “What the abuser will never realize is that help is just an escape key away.”


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