Giving victims a voice in the criminal justice system Giving victims a voice in the criminal justice system Giving victims a voice in the criminal justice system Giving victims a voice in the criminal justice system

The 10th National Victims of Crime Awareness Week

It is hard to believe that we are already celebrating the 10th National Victims of Crime Awareness Week in Canada, from April 19th-25th, 2015. It is a week where the federal government spends $1 million dollars to raise awareness across Canada of victims’ rights, their needs, and the multitude of services available in communities for people who may need them.  It is also a chance for agencies to hold training events for their employees, raise public awareness of an issue or thank the volunteers who give so much week after week.

This year there are three federal symposia being held across Canada: in Ottawa, April 20th, in Vancouver, April 22nd and in Halifax, April 24th.  It is a week to gather with our colleagues in victim services across Canada and reflect on what has been accomplished over the last 10 years.  Are Canadians more aware today than 10 years ago of the challenges people face when they become victims of crime? Do they know where they can get support services in the event they should become victims of crime? Are we funding enough support services for people who experience trauma to get the help they need to recover and rebuild their lives over the long-term?

Unfortunately, being victimized is not a pleasant experience and most people don’t ever plan to become a victim. People experience helplessness, shock, fear and anger.  In some cases, it can be hard to move forward once you have become a victim, but there are supports available to help you. If you or someone you know is struggling to cope, call our toll free line for support and connection to resources in your local community 1-877-232-2610.

Are Ontarians apathetic to domestic violence?

New study by Interval House shows 24% blame the victim and only 58% would intervene if abuse disclosed.

March 4, 2015 – While some recent celebrity abuse cases have increased public interest in and dialogue about violence against women, a recent poll commissioned by Interval House has concerning findings.

The poll, hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of Ontarians believe that it is possible for someone to bring abuse upon themselves.  This belief is higher among men (34.3%) than among women (14.1%). Victim-blaming accounts for why many women have trouble leaving an abusive relationship because they fear they will be blamed, not believed or have internalized that it is somehow their fault. “Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser” says Renee Weekes, Chair of the Board of Directors at Interval House. “There is no action or choice by a victim that can justify abuse. Women who experience violence need to know that abuse is never their fault and that there are resources in the community to support them.”

The Interval House study also showed that only 58.3% of Ontarians would consider intervening in an abusive situation if someone told them that their spouse or partner was abusive. Domestic violence is still largely kept behind closed doors and many people may still think that what happens in a relationship is not their business. “It’s shocking for us to see that only 58.3% of our neighbours would consider helping if someone in their life came forward and disclosed abuse,” says Weekes, “Our community must begin to move to an attitude of zero tolerance for violence and empathy for victims if we ever want to see an end to the private hell experienced by so many women.”

Other findings in the study revealed:

  • Only 55.8% would intervene in an abusive situation if they saw bruises or injures and suspected the spouse was the cause but 75.8% would intervene if they personally witnessed abuse.
  • 17.1% of Ontarians don’t believe it’s ever their place to interfere if they suspect abusive behaviour is going on.
  • A third (33.5%) of Ontarians would not know what to do if they suspected abuse.

The CRCVC is calling upon Canadians to raise your voice in ending violence against women, as we approach International Women’s Day on March 8th.  We agree that we can make social change if we raise our voices to alter attitudes about the acceptability and responsibility of abuse. Join Interval House’s #StopVAW social media campaign which encourages everyone to use the #StopVAW hashtag while posting a selfie with a stop sign to reignite the conversation and raise awareness. Other actions you can take to #StopVAW can be found at www.intervalhouse.ca/stopvaw

The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime works to ensure the equitable treatment of crime victims by providing support and advocacy to survivors.

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