Home should be a peaceful place where we can rest and put up our feet. But for some — namely women, children and elders — home can be a stressful, even violent place.
In each of the last four years, more than 100 cases of domestic violence were reported to the Comox Valley RCMP. However, the actual number is significantly higher, according to experts. For instance, in 2014 when there 132 incidents reported to police, fewer than one in five individuals who had been abused by their spouse reported the abuse.
In an effort to help stop family violence in the community, the Comox Valley Transition Society has initiated the Peace Begins at Home Purple Ribbon Campaign. This year’s campaign runs during Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, April 15 – 21.
“It’s really about raising awareness,” CVTS executive director Heather Ney said.
The Transition Society provides services to women and children who have experienced violence. It operates Lilli House, a transition shelter for women and children escaping from abusive situations. Last year, 195 women and 88 children stayed in Lilli House, which received 1,055 crisis calls.
“It has been interesting to be part of the evolution of the services,” said program co-ordinator Anne Davis, who has been with CVTS for 25 years. “We started out with the house and women’s counselling, Children Who Witness Abuse Counselling, and that was it. Particularly over the last 15 years, we’ve expanded greatly to respond to needs in the community, and provide more wrap-around service for women and their kids, and their families.”
Evolving services include employment, homelessness prevention, grandparents raising grandchildren, and a men’s group.
Lilli House is among 600-plus shelters that have opened in Canada since the first shelter began operating in 1973.
But domestic violence — be it physical, sexual, verbal or financial — continues to be something of a taboo subject. The goal of the CVTS is to bring the issue into the open, and unite the community in a collective commitment to end family violence.
Following are some simple measures to help accomplish the goal:
•Educate ourselves about violence and its impacts;
•Support someone who we suspect may be experiencing violence by gently asking if we can help;
•Speak up when we see abusive or disrespectful behaviour;
•Speak out against violence in the family;
•Donate to organizations that promote peace in the home, and provide care for those who have experienced violence;
•Become involved in activities of groups working to end family violence;
•Lead by example, and mentor children and youth in our life.