‘Home should be your safe haven’: Oakville declares intimate partner violence epidemic
Published June 25, 2023 at 10:00 am
Every six days in Canada a woman is killed by her intimate partner.
Last year in Halton Region alone, 3,503 Intimate Partner Violence calls were made to Halton Regional Police and another 2,342 calls to Women’s Shelter Crisis/Helpline.
With those frightening statistics, the Town of Oakville has joined Halton Region in declaring Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) an epidemic.
Town Council made the declaration at a meeting Monday night (June 19), saying it recognizes the issues of violence against women and girls in Halton as serious to the health and wellness of local families.
“Personally I think this is going to be one of the most important motions that I am going to put through as a councillor,” said Ward 7 Regional and Town Councillor Nav Nanda. “We’ve seen that there is abuse going on. Most of us, if not all of us, know someone in our time that has experienced this and maybe didn’t know how to support them at the time.”
Reports of intimate partner violence have been steadily increasing in the region of Halton.
“It needs to be in the forefront in order to increase awareness, remove systemic barriers and to insure survivors of Intimate Partner Violence can access the support they need and to protect themselves and their families,” said Halton Regional Police 2 District Operational Inspector Crystal Dodds who spoke to council.
Dodds said there has been a steady increase in the number of IPV calls they’ve been receiving since 2015. Seven years ago those calls numbered 2,700 and last year they got over 3,500.
“That’s an increase of almost 27 per cent,” the Halton police inspector said. “A more astounding number is the number of criminal charges that have been laid in relation to IPV cases. In 2015, Halton police laid 1,145 charges and when we fast forward to 2022, the charges had almost doubled and surpassed 2,140 charges.
“Our officers around the Region respond to an average of 10 calls per day related to Intimate Partner Violence. Of those 10 incidents, 30 per cent of them result in arrests.”
Halton police have a full unit dedicated to IPV with 24 full time investigators and have fostered strong relationships with the Children’s Aid Society, Halton Women’s Place and Halton Violence Prevention Council.
Still the numbers continue to increase. Already in 2023, they have responded to 1763 calls year to date.
The evidence shows there’s an epidemic of violence.
“These numbers are alarming and we need to understand and acknowledge that these statistics really speak to only what’s been reported,” said Dodds. “Sadly, Intimate Partner Violence is largely unreported and that’s for a variety of reasons. Research shows that only 30 per cent of violence against women is reported to police and that means 70 per cent of our survivors are not even calling us.”
A jury that adjudicated the Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam triple murder inquest (The Renfrew Inquest) issued 86 recommendations, many of them sweeping, to the Province of Ontario on Intimate Partner Violence.
The No. 1 recommendation of the Inquest is for the Province of Ontario to declare Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic and now many towns and cities are following through, including Oakville.
“Remember these numbers represent coworkers, friends, family, neighbours,” said Ward 3 Regional and Town Councillor Janet Haslett-Theall, who seconded the motion. “There is not a single community across our country that is free of domestic violence. We have much work to do.”
Dodds says communities need to invest the time and the financial resources to upstream multispectral interventions.
“This is not a private issue and we cannot stay silent,” she said. “We must work together because in addition to helping those survivors that we know about we desperately want to reach the 70 per cent we know about of Intimate Partner Violence survivors that are at risk, fearful for their own safety or that of their children and they are too afraid to come forward.
“We believe together we can weave a safety net that will not fail those that need us most.”
In past 40 years in Halton, 22 women have died at the hands of their intimate partners.
“We must collectively take action in order to ensure that not one more woman is murdered,” said Dodds. “Everyone deserves to feel safe, everyone deserves to be safe. And the last place that someone should feel afraid to be is in their home.
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