Family is a term that usually instills a sense of safety, a feeling of belonging and comfort, and an assurance of someone else having your best interests at heart. Sadly, for some, this isn’t the case.
This November, in honour of National Community Safety and Crime Prevention month, the Canada Safety Council is urging all Canadians to be vigilant allies in the efforts to put a stop to domestic violence.
On September 23, 2015, a man was arrested after allegedly shooting and killing three women in eastern Ontario, near the community of Wilno. The suspect, who had apparently been in relationships with two of the victims at various points, has been charged with assault in the past. During divorce proceedings, court records show that his now-ex-wife — not one of the dead — said there were multiple instances of violence and aggressiveness in the marriage.
Situations such as the one in Wilno show us that the solution isn’t as simple for victims of abuse as just walking away from the danger. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to end abuse, but recognizing it exists is the first step toward putting a stop to it.
Abuse can take on many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological elements. Know the signs of abuse, which can include but are not limited to physical marks (bruises, cuts, scrapes,) changes in behaviour (anxiety or fear, low self-esteem) and, in the case of spousal abuse, heightened dependency on the abuser and a need for the abused to make frequent check-ins with their partner.
Abuse is often not immediately recognized, even by the victim. Especially in the case of spousal abuse, the victim may incorrectly assume the blame or reconcile out of fear or a hope that it won’t happen again. As a result, a lot of instances of abuse go unreported, which only serves to obscure the statistics and numbers associated with it.
Abuse can happen to anyone — brother, sister, father, mother, child, adult — and there’s no stereotypical abuser or victim. Be part of the solution and follow these tips:
- Call the police in an emergency. They’re there to help you.
- Tell someone you trust and/or a crisis centre. They will be able to help you get the help you need if you find yourself unable to do so.
- Don’t blame yourself for abusive behaviour from a family member. A common trait in abusers is shifting the blame toward the abused — don’t believe that you are at fault for being on the receiving end of the aggressor’s actions.
- Take responsibility for your actions and get help. If you recognize a pattern of abusive behavior in yourself, it’s not too late to seek counseling and correct it.
Witness or friend:
- If you suspect a friend or someone you know is the victim of abuse, listen to them and offer them support. Let them know they are not alone and encourage them to take steps to put an end to the abuse.
- In case of an emergency, or of an abusive situation unfolding in front of you, do not attempt to intervene directly. Call the police.
About the Canada Safety Council
The Canada Safety Council is an independent, knowledge-based, charitable organization dedicated to the cause of safety. We provide national leadership in safety through information, education and collaboration. We are Canada’s voice and resource for safety.
Police-reported data shows that seven out of 10 victims of family-related violence in 2013 were female, with the most represented age groups being the 30s for women and 15-to-19 year olds for males.
Approximately 88,000 victims of family violence were reported by police, according to a 2011 study by Statistics Canada, with nearly half of those representing violence by a former or current spouse.
For more information, please contact:
Communications/Media Program Coordinator
Canada Safety Council
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)