TORONTO -- About 120 charges related to intimate partner violence were laid last month in Halton Region.

In a news release issued on Thursday afternoon, the Halton Police Service said that it responded to 277 calls regarding intimate partner violence in March.

“The Halton Regional Police Service is urging residents to remain vigilant in reporting suspected intimate partner violence,” the news release said. “During these unprecedented times, victims are isolated inside their homes with their abusers, making it increasingly difficult for them to seek help.”

Ontario has been under a partial lockdown since mid-March, when the premier declared a state of emergency and shut down non-essential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

"Now, more than ever, victims of intimate partner violence need the support of their community," Halton Police Service Deputy Chief Jeff Hill said in a statement. "In a time of isolation, we must show victims that they are not alone and that help is available."

Halton police is asking family and friends to check in on their loved ones regularly, and to establish a “signal word” to be used if they feel they are in danger.

Halton police said they responded to 296 calls related to intimate partner violence in February and laid 124 charges.

Last year, Halton police reported more than 3,300 calls about intimate partner violence.

According to Statistics Canada, there were more than 99,000 victims of intimate partner violence between the ages of 15 and 89 in Canada who reported their case to police in 2018. About 79 per cent were women.

Victims of intimate partner violence in Halton Region can call the following phone numbers if they need assistance:

• Halton Regional Police Service Victim Services Unit 905-825-4777

• Halton Women's Place 905-878-8555 (north) or 905-332-7892 (24-hour crisis line)

• Halton Children's Aid Society 905-333-4441 or 1-866-607-5437

• Nina's Place Sexual Assault and Domestic Assault Care Centre 905-336-4116 or 905-681-4880

• Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services (SAVIS) 905-875-1555 (24-hour crisis line)