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Skyrocketing Spousal Abuse During COVID-19 | How Private Investigators Can Help

Alongside spiking COVID-19 cases in Canada, in March of this year isolation measures came into effect, closing schools, businesses, and facilities across the country. Many Canadian workers endured lay-offs or were furloughed, while others were mandated to work from home. With people confined to their homes, cut off from their social and recreational outlets, the collective mental health of Canadians has suffered. In tandem with the stress of decreasing job and financial security, is the mounting fear and uncertainty surrounding their health and the health of loved ones. Studies reveal that over 50% of Canadians have reported worsening mental health since the on-set of the pandemic[1]. Substance abuse rates are also skyrocketing, with 1 in 4 between the ages of 35-54 reporting increases in alcohol consumption while self-isolating or social distancing1.

COVID-19’s Impact in Our Homes

Consider that we spend over a third of our lives in the workplace, another third spent sleeping, and the rest of our time divided between home, recreational pursuits, and other obligations. COVID-19-related isolation measures have forced us all to stay within the confines of our home, changing this sacred work-life balance. The dynamics of our personal relationships have therefore shifted dramatically in response to the changing landscape and uncertainty hanging over us.

Over the past 6 months, most of us have spent more time with our partner and family than we have in our entire lives, and while this may have brought some people closer together, for other couples, it has exposed aspects of personalities or habits that were neatly locked away or compartmentalized prior to the outbreak.  We are seeing our partner though a new lens, and sometimes, we are shocked by what we see.

This confinement, in tandem with strains on mental health, has unfortunately increased concerns over partner abuse. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men are impacted by intimate partner violence, which can manifest itself as physical, financial, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse. Without access to traditional sources of refuge or support – such as school, work, shelters, or homes of family members – victims of violence at home have nowhere to escape. As a result, the exposure to this violence or abuse increases.

How Can Private Investigators Help Victims of Partner Violence?

An important thing to note, is that within a court of law, or any other governing body, it is challenging to prove any form of abuse, especially since so many victims of abuse are hesitant to report it out of fear, embarrassment, or due to threats from the abuser.

This being said, Private Investigators with extensive experience in Family Law Investigations have the resources and expertise to secure the evidence you need to obtain a domestic violence restraining order, file for custody of your children, or to report an abuser to the authorities. Below are a few of the many ways that Private Investigators help men and women facing intimate partner violence secure the evidence they need to move through their situation with clarity and control:

  • Background Checks: Thorough record searches to uncover any past instances of domestic violence or other criminal charges. This may also include witness testimony or interviews from family/friends/coworkers who can confirm abusive tendencies or questionable behaviour.
  • Surveillance: Our tactical surveillance team can capture mobile or fixed high-definition 4K video footage and photographic evidence detailing the movement and behvaiours of the abuser. This many also include capturing date and time stamped photos of injuries resulting from physical abuse to be used within a court of law.
  • GPS Tracking: Discreet and highly powerful GPS tracking devices are affixed to the family vehicle to track the movement and whereabouts of the abuser.

Insider Insight from Star Quality Private Investigations

Every one of our cases is unique; each victim of abuse has a different story to tell and vastly different goals for their investigation. For many of our clients, the priority is not necessarily capturing evidence of the abuse itself, but rather finding the source of the aggression, or sudden change in behaviour. For other clients the end goal is to simply collect enough evidence of wrongdoing, to give them the tools they need to leave the abuser and take necessary action to ensure the long-term safety of their family.

Below we share two case studies of clients who have dealt with spousal abuse that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how our team of Toronto Private Investigators helped them through their situation:

CASE 1

Our team was contacted by a female client, married to a high-level executive husband with whom she shared three children. Prior to COVID-19, their lives, and marriage, were normal. He worked long, 16-hour days, and she was kept busy shuttling her children between private school, and a string of extracurricular activities. For the most part, they led separate lives. When the public health crisis emerged, their lives shifted dramatically. Her husband was now working from home full-time, and all three children had to pivot to online learning.

After the first few weeks, her husband’s behaviour and attitude began to pose a concern to our client and her family. He was often irritated, frustrated, impatient, and would frequently take this anger out on her by means of verbal and emotional abuse. He began taking away her credit cards, and access to the family car. She understood that he was struggling without his normal outlets of work and the gym, but as the abuse escalated, she was concerned that it could also be projected towards the children.

Compounding this fear, her husband has started leaving the house for long periods of time. With his office and gym still closed, she didn’t know where he was going, and was concerned that – given his radical change in behaviour – he may be turning to drugs as a coping mechanism.

Our Private Investigators worked quickly, performing discreet surveillance on her husband, collecting high definition 4K video footage detailing his activities and whereabouts. Our evidence revealed that he wasn’t engaging in drug use but was instead drinking heavily on a regular basis. Further, we uncovered an affair with a co-worker that, after a brief pause following the office closure, was re-kindled in new territory. With this evidence in hand, our client took the steps to file for divorce and gain full custody of her children.

CASE 2

Our Oakville Private Investigation Agency was contacted by a client in the medical field who very reluctantly shared his concerns regarding the behaviour of his wife. Since the start of the pandemic-related isolation measures, his wife had been disappearing for extended periods of time without warning. During the periods when she was at home, her behaviour was erratic, and she would frequently criticize, belittle, and lash out verbally. It wasn’t long before this verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse, and while he was not necessarily fearful for his own safety, he worried about her harming herself or their children. He was hesitant to get the police involved, but he didn’t know where else to turn.

Our discreet surveillance uncovered a string of concerns, some of which came as a complete surprise to our client. As well as frequent cocaine use (explaining her erratic behaviour), his wife was also juggling a shopping addiction and sustaining an affair. Our client used this evidence to quickly apply for divorce, as well as secure custody over the children from their blended family, ensuring their safety and his!

 

“I so deeply appreciate, respect, applaud, and commend our clients for having the bravery to share their most intimate fears and concerns with an absolute stranger, and to ASK FOR HELP. So many of the clients we talk to are in a deep, dark place, feeling broken and destroyed; calling us is the first step to find the clarity and confidence you need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of you and your family. We’ll hold your hand and guide you every step of the way with the empathy, respect, and compassion that you deserve.”

Adrianne F. | Director, Star Quality Private Investigations Toronto

 

If you, or someone you care about is a victim of partner abuse, reach out to Toronto’s leading Family Law Investigation team and let us help you find the answers you need, want, and deserve. Call Star Quality Private Investigations today for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.

 

 

 

[1] http://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/pdfs—public-policy-submissions/covid-and-mh-policy-paper-pdf.pdf

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2024046

wife abuse violent man hitting frightened woman or child