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.
The recent death of Jan Singh in Oakville, ruled a homicide by police, makes us all pause and reflect. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends. Her loss will undoubtedly affect many lives in lasting and profound ways.
On average in Canada, a woman is murdered by her intimate partner every six days, according to 2009 figures from Statistics Canada. However, in one week in Peel, Hamilton and Halton, five women were allegedly murdered by their intimate partner or a relative.
The case in Oakville has been identified as a murder-suicide, which unfortunately is not an isolated incident. Instead, it highlights the many ways domestic homicides take place in homes across Canada, including the increasing rates of domestic homicides among older adults.
Domestic homicides are the most preventable and predictable of all homicides, according to the Neighbours Friends and Families Public Education Campaign.
Year after year, the Ontario Domestic Death Review Committee takes a look at cases of domestic homicides, identifying risk factors and producing recommendations to increase awareness about domestic violence and how it can escalate to domestic homicide.
A woman being murdered by an intimate partner is a tragedy. When this type of crime happens in our own community, it is jarring and highlights just how much danger women and children can face.
So many women are living with abuse and are struggling in isolation. It’s time we all speak out against violence against women and children. Lives depend on it.
Resources and support are available to women in Halton, including for women still involved in an abusive relationships, those ready to end their relationship as well as those who have just ended their relationship. Please reach to the following organizations for support:
Thrive Counselling (905-637-5256), which offers individual and group counselling, as well as services for men who are abusive in their relationships;
- Halton Women’s Place, which offers a 24-hour crisis line, safety planning, outreach services and emergency shelters in Burlington (905-332-7892) and Milton (905-878-8555);
- SAVIS (905-875-1555), which offers a 24-hour crisis line, counselling and accompaniments to police or hospital;
- Nina’s Place Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre at Joseph Brant Hospital (905-632-3737 ext. 5708) for health care, referrals and counselling;
- The Women’s Centre of Halton (905-847-5520), which offers support, resources, including access to computer, social activities, drop-in support and group programs;
- Halton Regional Police Services by calling 911 or through its Domestic Violence Investigative Unit (905-825-4747 ext. 8799);
- Assaulted Women’s Helpline (1-866-863-0511), which offers a 24-hour crisis line in more than 200 languages.
For those of you who know someone who is experiencing abuse in their relationships, find a way to reach out and let them know you care about them.
To learn more about how to help a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbour, understand warning signs, or to talk to a man you know about his abusive behaviour towards his partner, visit www.neighboursfriendsandfamilies.ca.
If there is to be any progress in combating violence against women, then men will need to step up and be part of the solution.
This theme was repeated over and over again, as local officials marked November as Woman Abuse Prevention Month during a ceremony at the Halton Regional Centre on Thursday (Nov. 2).
Halton Violence Prevention Council (HVPC) chair Chondrena Vieira-Martin began her presentation by calling violence against women not a women’s issue, but instead a human rights issue, which all must work to combat.
“It is not appropriate nor sufficient in placing the sole responsibility for keeping women and children safe on only half the population,” she said before an audience of Halton police, regional employees, representatives from Halton Women’s Place (HWP) and others.
“We need to engage men to become accountable for their (gender’s) role in the abuse of women and to assist them in changing any behaviour, attitudes and beliefs that form part of this abuse cycle.”
Vieira-Martin noted that by providing services across the family spectrum, she believes the direction violence is taking in the community could be changed.
She noted Thrive Counselling Services Halton offers a Partners Abuse Response program for people who have used abusive behaviours with their partners.
The registered charity also features the Caring Dads program for fathers who have been abusive to their children or children’s mother.
There is no shortage of reasons for these programs, with statistics presented during the ceremony noting every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
Another chilling statistic asserted that there are 460,000 sexual assaults in Canada every year.
Those present also heard from Chris Ventura, who spoke on behalf of Oakville North Burlington MP Pam Damoff, who was in Ottawa on Thursday.
He noted that one in four women would face gender-based violence in their lifetime, and that rapid changes in technology allow perpetrators to direct violence through increasingly diverse and pervasive channels.
Ventura also talked about the Status of Women’s Committee report, which Damoff tabled to study violence against young women and girls in Canada.
“The committee decided to conduct this study because acts of gender-based violence can prevent young women and girls from leading fulfilling lives as equal members of Canadian society,” he said.
“Survivors of gender-based violence are often made to feel responsible for the violence committed against them, and responses from the judicial system, colleges and universities, and other institutions can often serve to re-traumatize survivors who seek regress.”
Ventura said the committee made 45 recommendations to the Government of Canada aimed at preventing, responding to and eliminating acts of violence against women and girls.
One key point made in the report, he said, is the absolute necessity of engaging men and boys in addressing violence.
The numerous sexual assault allegations facing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the #METOO campaign were not far from the minds of many of those present.
Oakville Ward 1 Coun. Sean O’Meara said the #METOO campaign, which saw women around the world take to social media to discuss their own experiences with sexual assault and harassment, put a human face to the issue.
He also pointed out men have moments every day where they can work to counter these cultural issues.
Halton police Deputy Chief Carol Crowe said every woman has the right to live in safety and to feel secure in her home, at her workplace and in her community, free from the threat of violence.
“While much has been done to address the issue, we clearly have a long way to go, and the multitude of stories emerging in the media involving high-profile men only highlights the need for us to join together to do all we can to prevent violence against women,” said Crowe.
“As a police service, our approach can be somewhat reactive in nature. When there is a crisis, we respond. However, today is about prevention. What can we do to prevent women from suffering abuse and how can we help end the cycle of violence?”
Crowe noted the Halton police have a Victims Services Unit dedicated to ensuring all victims of crime receive the support they need.
Halton police also have a Victim Quick Response Program, which provides financial support to women who suffer from violence.
Crowe said these funds could be used to repair broken windows or doors, provide counselling to survivors and their children and provide safe places to stay when required.
Halton police also have a dedicated Domestic Violence Unit, which not only responds to incidents of domestic violence, but also reviews cases where no criminal offence has been alleged to determine if there is a threat of violence.
Police have also given mobile tracking systems to women who are at elevated risk of victimization.
“These devices are issued at no cost to the individual and provide her with the peace of mind that should they find themselves in trouble, police will respond to their location without delay,” said Crowe.
Those present also heard from Tracie McGrath of the John Howard Society’s Healthy Partner Relationship Program.
The program is offered to men who are at risk of or are engaged in violence against women.
McGrath noted in some cases the attendees were not even aware what they were doing constituted abuse.
“We’ve had men who punch things in other rooms, then they get referred to the program and come here, and realize those actions were intimidation and the effect that has on their partner is actually abuse,” said McGrath.