Conclusion of International Women’s Day article by Lynsey Kitching

The rate of homicides against women, generally considered a barometer of violent crime, has been relatively stable since 2000. In the three decades prior to 2000, the rate had declined 58 percent.

The most worrisome part of the report is that young women are much more at risk. The police-reported rate of violent crime against women aged 15 to 24 was 42 percent higher than the rate for women aged 25 to 34, and nearly double the rate for women aged 35 to 44.

Provincially, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which have consistently recorded the highest provincial rates of police-reported violent crime, had rates of violence against women in 2011 that were about double the national rate.

·Ontario and Quebec had the lowest rates of violence against women. As is the case with violent crime overall, the territories have consistently recorded the highest rates of police-reported violence against women. The rate of violent crime against women in Nunavut was nearly 13 times higher than the rate for Canada.

Though it is interesting to read the stats, how accurate can they be?

Colledge, whose day job is to work with women, men and children who are in a difficult situation says, “I like to think of these numbers as a guideline. A few years ago I remember going down for training and there was a Stats Can figure that said about one in five have been assaulted. In a room of around 3,000 people we did a questionnaire that asked, have you ever been involved in a violent situation. The answers ended up being one in two.”

There are different types of violence.

Colledge says, “There is physical, emotional, mental, financial, physiological.”

During his talk, Harley outlined the different ways we communicate and how about 70 percent of humans are visual communicators and learners. We have to see it, to believe it and to understand it. If this is true, what does it mean for the different types of abuse and how our brains understand what is happening?

Often we don’t, and we hear people say things like, “I’m not abused, he doesn’t hit me.”

Sometimes not having the physical proof of abuse is the only thing stopping a person from realizing they are being abused, as it comes in many forms.

Colledge says, “Violence happens everywhere. Here in Tumbler Ridge it goes in cycles. I’ve been working in Outreach for seven years. I’ve been working with victims of violence in either a volunteer position or employment for more than 20 years here. It never goes away, it just goes up and down. Ironically enough, when there was no money and the mines shut, there was less than when there are lots of jobs. The why? It varies. Last year there were about 50 calls collectively here in town.”

One can imagine how difficult it could be in a small town to seek out help. Colledge says, “Yes it is. Especially when you know the person. ‘Oh I can’t go because so and so is my best friend and I don’t want her to know.’ That’s why it is good there are three of us.”

Legislation has come a long way in Canada to help with victims of crime. In BC we now have Third-Party reporting.

Colledge says, “To understand this you must first understand that there are two kinds of Victim services, there are Community Based Victim Services and Police Based. Community Based is only for assault, it has nothing to do with if your house gets broken into or someone murdered your neighbour. This is only for domestic violence, male or female. Third-Party reporting is a program setup which was recently adopted by the province where let’s say you were assaulted and you didn’t want to tell anybody. If you came into my office or talked to an outreach worker and said ‘something happened to me, but I don’t want to tell anyone.’ I can then take your information and tell Community Based Services the only thing is, if we catch the person I then have to tell who you are. Until then your name is never disclosed.”

Because of this program, they caught three serial rapists in the downtown Vancouver area.

Colledge continues, “Now we can give a description of the events. If I were to go to the police, I would have to give a name of the victim because they are obligated to uphold the law. They can’t be grey. Community Based notifies them of the events, then the police know. This gives them the opportunity to get leads and track down a criminal, which otherwise they wouldn’t have known was out there.”

Colledge says, “We try to use preventative measures as well.”

For example if one partner in a marriage is getting paid that weekend and they tend to drink. “Well the outreach program can find a safe place for the other partner and the children for the weekend.” She continues, “Unfortunately there are a lot of people who have a lot of opinions which can be very hurtful to victims, When I was young I had the same opinion, ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ I didn’t know and didn’t understand. I said it, I saw it, I had family members. It’s not that easy to leave. It’s a cycle that I’ve to know very well and until women are confident enough, they might keep going back.”