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Service helping victims of domestic violence move out seeks volunteers

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An emergency moving service for victims of domestic violence says it is trying to keep up with demand.

Shelter Movers Montreal's goal is to get victims out of their homes before the abuse escalates.

"I feel that every time that we get a woman out of the situation and I see her starting over, I feel that at least this woman will be safe and at least she won't go through maybe another attack that might lead to her death," said Anathalie Jean-Charles of Shelter Movers Montreal.

According to the province, about 40 per cent of adult women have experienced at least one act of violence from their partner -- that's over 1.3 million women. For men, it's 26 per cent or 858,000 Quebecers.

"It's much more common that we think," said Jean-Charles. "It's too much."

There have been nine suspected femicides in Quebec so far this year, and according to a Canada-wide report from 2023, the number of women and girls killed in the past five years has risen. On average, it's up to one every 48 hours.

Shelter Movers started in Montreal in 2020. Last year, it moved 235 people, nearly 20 moves every month.

"We started with a lot of requests from the beginning, and we're just trying to catch up right now," said Jean-Charles.

The organization is looking for more help. It's currently seeking volunteer movers, drivers, scheduling coordinators, move coordinators and intake coordinators.

"I'm a full-time student and I don't always have the greatest flexibility or the most amount of time, but to be able to spend like four or five hours a month, even just being able to give to someone and to be able to see that immediate impact," said volunteer Ashley Bock.

Volunteers can be accompanied by security or even police if the abuser could be home. For those leaving, the move is free.    

"It's mostly relief. Also a sense that it's a new life starting for them, a new chance for them to start over," said Jean-Charles.

Bock said helping others start over is rewarding.

"It's such a heartwarming experience when you can help somebody who genuinely – really genuinely – appreciates it," she said. 

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