Nelson group raises awareness of violence against women

"Think domestic violence doesn’t happen in Nelson? Think again."

Do you know this woman? Chances are you do. She is one of three women in Canada who have experienced abuse. She could be your sister, your daughter, your aunt, your mother, your friend, the clerk who often helps you in the store, or the woman across from you in your office.

On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. A sobering statistic.

Think domestic violence doesn’t happen in Nelson? Think again.

According to Anna Maskerine, chair of the Nelson Violence Against Women in Relationships Committee, it most certainly does. The Aimee Beaulieu Transition House is often full to capacity. After 20 years of providing service in the community, the problem of violence against women shows no signs of going away.

The Nelson Violence Against Women in Relationships committee is comprised of service providers from Nelson Community Services Centre (Aimee Beaulieu Transition House, Women’s Outreach and Stopping the Violence Counselling), community-based victim services, police-based victim services, the Nelson Women‘s Centre, Kootenay Kids Society, Nelson Police Department, Nelson RCMP, Family Justice, corrections, Crown counsel, and Salmo Community Services.

This year the committee partnered with local business during Prevention of Violence Against Women Week to create awareness about this very real issue in our community. Local businesses displayed silhouettes of women with stats and facts in their store front windows. The idea behind the displays was to bring awareness to the fact that there are women among us who experience violence, that there is often silence about the issue, and that victims are often invisible.

To mark Prevention of Violence Against Women Week and Victims of Crime Week, the committee also screened the film Stalled and heard a presentation from a local woman who shared her powerful and inspiring personal story of abuse.

Hearing women’s stories is essential to breaking the silence around violence against women. A number of inquests and inquiries have stressed that safety for women and children can be improved by collaborative interagency responses and Violence Against Women in Relationships’ mandate is just that.

Premier Christy Clark said violence against women is not a women’s issue, but is “an issue for all of us in British Columbia. The Violence Free BC strategy is our roadmap to creating a province where each of us does our part, working together, to keep women safe from harm.”

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said stopping the violence “starts with all of us.” Domestic violence killed 113 women in BC from 2004 to 2014, according to the province, and more than 12,300 police-reported victims of intimate partner violence throughout the province in 2013.

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