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This November, shine a light on gendered violence

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Photo:  Devon Buchanan/Flickr

November is Woman Abuse Prevention month in Ontario. It’s important to remember that intimate partner violence is not a women’s issue, it’s actually a men’s issue -- they are the ones inflicting the harm -- and a human rights issue. Not all men are abusive, but we need the good guys to be allies in the fight to eradicate violence against women and girls.

Here are important facts you should know:

  • A woman is assaulted an average of 35 times before she calls the police the first time.
  • According to Statistics Canada, 70 per cent of spousal violence is never reported to police.
  • On average, a woman leaves an abusive relationship seven times before she is successful.
  • Her chances of being murdered increase nine-fold once she leaves her abuser.
  • Every six days a Canadian woman is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • Every four days a Canadian woman is murdered by a family member.

The Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee (DVDRC) was established 13 years ago “to assist the Office of the Chief Coroner in the investigation and review of deaths of persons that occur as a result of domestic violence, and to make recommendations to help prevent such deaths in similar circumstances.”

During that time, the DVDRC has established that intimate partner femicides are predictable and preventable.

The DVDRC created a list of 39 risk factors involved in cases of lethality. Here are the top 10 factors:

  • A history of violence (72 per cent)
  • Pending or current separation (69 per cent)
  • The perpetrator is depressed (54 per cent)
  • Obsessive behaviour by the perpetrator (53 per cent)
  • There was an escalation of violence (49 per cent)
  • Prior threats or attempts by the perpetrator to commit suicide (44 per cent)
  • Prior threats to kill the victim (44 per cent)
  • Prior attempts to isolate the victim (42 per cent)
  • The perpetrator is unemployed (41 per cent)
  • Victim has an intuitive sense of fear toward the perpetrator (38 per cent)

When several of these factors occur simultaneously, it's a clear indication of impending lethality.

In almost every case, at least one person outside the intimate relationship was aware that something was terribly wrong. But, individuals are reticent to take action because they don’t know what to do.

Woman Abuse Prevention month is usually a time of heightened awareness and opportunities for the public to learn more about this growing pandemic.

But, a search for panels, workshops, community movie nights, and discussions proved fruitless.

In light of this dearth of information, I suggest you check out the Neighbours, Friends and Family (NFF) website to learn the warning signs of abuse and how to safely intervene before it becomes lethal. The NFF site provides information on running your own lunch-and-learn event at work, places of worship, and for interested community groups.

There’s information on identifying and helping a woman at risk; how to talk to men who are abusive; safety planning for women who are abused; and a wide array of infographics and information sheets to share.

At the end of November, the Ontario Association for Interval and Transition Houses publishes its Femicide List, an accounting of all of the women who have been murdered by their intimate partner in Ontario during the past year. The list also includes all femicides or women who have been murdered simply because they were women.

November is a month to learn more about becoming an ally for your mom, sisters, aunties, cousins, co-workers, shop clerks, waitresses, or postal workers who are living with, leaving and healing from gendered violence.

Shine a purple light on gendered violence to make it impossible to hide.

Photo:  Devon Buchanan/Flickr

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