Contributed by Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society
Abuse thrives in the dark and Prevention of Violence Against Women Week aims to shine a light on this issue and show the community how they can assist.
“Revelstoke has a number of service providers that work together to offer a way out,” Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society (RWSS) executive director Lynn Loeppky said. “Revelstoke is a progressive community in that way but there is always room to grow.”
The week runs from April 15–21 and to raise awareness and show solidarity for those experiencing abuse, the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society is leading a march on Wednesday April 18.
In Revelstoke, RCMP attends domestic violence calls of varying degrees about once every two weeks. 25 domestic violence incidents were reported in Revelstoke in 2017.
“I think the mass majority of domestic violence occurs over long periods of time, very much hidden behind closed doors,” Revelstoke Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky said. “Family members often have no knowledge of goings on, although they may suspect it. The information that we get from our training is to assume that when we get the call, it is not the first time.”
It can take many occurrences of domestic violence before police or a shelter is called. Sometimes it can be too late as the shocking and sad news story out of Ajax, Ontario last month showed. Krassimira Pejcinovski, 39, was killed as well as her 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. Her partner was charged with the attack. Closer to home in Kelowna last year, a man was charged with killing his wife Clara and their two daughters a week before Christmas.
It’s incidents like these that have formed ICATs (Integrated Case Assessment Team) around the province, including one in Revelstoke. Together agencies such as the RCMP, Community Connections and RWSS communicate on high-level domestic violence cases.
When women prepare to leave abusive situations, they can find themselves homeless with no money. Grabinksy recommends they get in contact with local agencies to work out the best way forward.
“We will not jeopardise a person’s safety,” Grabinsky said. “We want people to know that the community supports them, that there are resources out there, and they’re not alone.”
In Canada, the rate of family violence (marriage, blood, foster and common-law) against both genders in 2016 was 239 victims in every 100,000. For women, the rate was higher at 319. Perhaps a nod to the success of raising awareness, family violence has decreased in the five years prior by 15 per cent.
The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society is staffed 24/7 and last year received 182 crisis calls. While Prevention of Violence Against Women week focuses on violence, Loeppky stresses abuse isn’t only physical. Emotional abuse, which often accompanies physical, is subtle and can also reduce a person to a shell of who they used to be.
“If people don’t feel safe, they’re living in fear and living in fear doesn’t create productive society,” Loeppky said. “Abuse leads to further abuse and if it is deemed ok, the cycle continues.”
Join the RCMP and RWSS on the Prevention of Violence Against Women march on Wednesday April 18 at 11.30 a.m. The community will gather at the flag in front of Revelstoke Secondary School. From here local RCMP will escort the group to Grizzly Plaza, where the Revelstoke Aboriginal Friendship Society will provide snacks and refreshments.