In January 2014 the Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society received information that Squamish RCMP saw a 87% increase in the number of reports of domestic violence(1) between 2012 and 2013. For the Sea to Sky Corridor as a whole, reports of domestic violence were up 46%.

At the same time these increases were occurring, the District of Squamish was suggesting the Squamish RCMP, among other public serving agencies, find a way to maintain or even cut their current operating budgets. For the RCMP this meant the possibility of no longer having funding for operation of their Victim Services program. The amount Victim Services receives for their annual operating budget is less than $25,000 and the services offered through this program are provided free of charge to the public. Their services are not just related to domestic violence; other services include but are in no way limited to notifying families of the death of loved ones, and working with victims of crime.

The Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society works towards ending violence against women in relationships. At times, part of this process includes working collaboratively with Victim Services to ensure that women with or without children are able to access all services necessary to ensure their safety and well-being. Knowing that there was such a significant increase in reports of domestic violence between 2012 and 2013 to the RCMP serves to emphasize the importance of having organizations and services dedicated to ending domestic violence in all forms. In order to make this happen the public needs to work together as a whole; refusing to continue encouraging the belief that these behaviours are acceptable in our society today. We are pleased to share that the District of Squamish has since approved ongoing funding for the RCMP Victim Services program for the 2014 fiscal year.

There are different ways each of us can work towards ending domestic violence. Speak up when you hear an inappropriate joke, let the people sharing it know that it is not funny. Write to organizations that perpetrate the myth that abusing another individual is okay and let them know you will not be using their products or watching their shows. Attend public awareness events and fundraisers such as Vagina Monologues and Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes. Accept that sometimes taxes may need to increase in order to maintain services that are there to provide help to you in times of need. The list is endless – the thing to remember is that stopping Domestic Violence begins with you.

 

(1) The Handbook for Police Responding to Domestic Violence defines Domestic Violence as any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. Although both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, the overwhelming majority of this violence involves men abusing women. Intimate relationships include those between opposite-sex and same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality, and include current and former dating, common-law and married couples.” (http://www.lfcc.on.ca/Handbook_for_Police.pdf)

 

Written by: Deanna Enders, Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society Transition House Coordinator