Those experiencing violence and abuse in their relationships now have a new resource they can use to help them get out.
The Halton Violence Prevention Council (HVPC) unveiled its new Safety Planning Booklet Monday, May 28, during a presentation at the Halton Regional Police Service headquarters on Bronte Road.
The booklet is intended to help individuals affected by violence and abuse develop a safety plan to enhance their protection and well being.
“While Halton has been the safest large municipality in the country for just over a decade, we are not immune to incidents of violence. In fact last year, violent crimes in our community accounted for nearly one in five of our criminal offences,” said Halton Police Chief Stephen Tanner.
“My hope is that this safety planning booklet fills a current gap in trauma support and further empowers survivors by providing them with a tool to expedite their healing.”
Tanner noted Halton police collaborated with HVPC in making the booklet, which was paid for through a grant from the Department of Justice Canada Victims Fund.
The booklet contains the Victim’s Bill of Rights, information on what to expect from the criminal court system, instructions on how to receive financial assistance while leaving an abusive relationship, descriptions of the different forms of abuse, tips on ending an abusive relationship, information on stalking, contact numbers for local institutions that can help and more.
The booklet also addressed how new technology can be put to disturbing use in the hands of an abusive ex(partner).
“If the abusive person knows where you are, where you have been, or that you are in your car, have someone (mechanic) check your car for hidden location devices,” reads one tip.
“Spyware can easily be downloaded onto your phone. If spyware is on your phone your conversations, texts, and locations may be available to your ex(partner),” reads another warning.
Burlington MP Karina Gould said the new booklet would help people in the Halton community get the help they need and ensure they are able to report sexual assaults and other violence.
“We know that gender-based violence in our community and in our country is far too prevalent. Nine in 10 non-spousal related sexual assaults go unreported and when they are reported the victims often face additional stigma or further victimization,” said Gould.
“We must do better and we must change how we treat our victims and how we help them get back on their feet, restart their lives and live successful, fulfilling and healthy futures.”
Gould said the new booklet is an example of the type of work that needs to be done in this area.
Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon called the booklet an outstanding piece of work and clear example of what happens when community partners work together.
“Our government has recently announced “It’s never OK,” Ontario’s gender-based violence strategy. It was a $242-million framework for funding organizations and the work that they do, an update of our domestic violence action plan, and a commitment by our province to a process of innovation and renewal that can better respond to the higher demand for services and supports for survivors of and those at risk of experiencing gender-based violence,” said McMahon.
“That’s what this booklet hopes to do as well.”
McMahon said if reelected she would work with HVPC to try and enhance the booklet to make it more available to those who need it.
Those present also heard from Lorraine, a member of the group SAFE (Survivor Advocates for Empowerment).
She talked about what it is like to be in an abusive relationship and how important information in a similar safety booklet she was provided was to her.
“I had my phone hooked up to three trustworthy and lovely women so that if my abuser came around, if I wasn’t feeling safe, if he attacked — I would simply push that button and the safety word would be used and the police would be called,” she said.
“I had a group of friends that came and put safety latches on all my windows and doors. I removed a butcher block of knives from my counter. To this day my personal documents remain copied and in a safe space. It is beyond imaginable what a woman lives through with the fear of safety … I can’t thank HVPC enough for the work they do to help, support and keep women safe.”
HVPC co-ordinator Tricia Porter said the booklet is available through HVPC in an effort to keep it out of the hands of abusive ex(partners).
She said the booklet was specifically designed to be small and discrete.
The HVPC is comprised of several organizations that provide a range of services for families and individuals who experience any kind of violence or abuse.
For information on the Safety Planning Booklet contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-845-3811 ext. 124.