Category:Crimes against children

Every 6 days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Action is needed!

The CRCVC mourns the recent homicides of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam, outside of Ottawa, in Wilno, Ontario. All are believed to be killed within hours of each other on September 22, 2015 by Basil Borutski, their former intimate partner, who has since been charged with first-degree murder. Since their tragic deaths, two other women have perished at the hands of former or current partners. In Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, the family of Colleen Sillito, who was shot by a former boyfriend in a murder-suicide October 2nd, wants the provincial government to call a public inquiry. In Manitoba, 20-year-old Selena Rose Keeper was found bleeding to death outside a Winnipeg home October 8th. She loved and feared the man who has been charged in her death, her sister says. It is also reported that she was denied a protection order.

The lives of these women mattered, yet in this country women continue to be killed —one every six days nationally—without much ado. Indigenous women continue to face indifference with the number of girls and women stolen now tallying more than one thousand. The topic of violence against women is not a major election issue, even though it should be.

Men like Borutski are not “unstoppable”; in fact, violence against women is preventable. Professor Irvin Waller reminds us that the World Health Assembly (which has oversight of the World Health Organization) adopted in 2014 a milestone resolution on the role of the health sector in preventing violence against women.

We know how to prevent these crimes. The Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee reviews deaths of persons that occur as a result of domestic violence, and makes recommendations to help prevent such deaths in similar circumstances. Waller states, “Among the priorities must be partnerships between police, health, social services and others that are essential to providing for prevention and the greatest protection to possible victims. Another priority is funding social investment in reducing the well established risk factors, including mental illness, as well as to support victims and their children, particularly in rural areas where the home and livelihood are interconnected.”

Borutski somehow evaded the criminal justice system for the crimes he committed against his partners. While he was convicted of causing property damage, assault police and failure to provide a breath sample, the serious charges for threatening his ex-wife with death and assaulting her, for assaulting Warmerdam, for criminal harassment of a fifth woman and for assault against a sixth, were all stayed by Crown prosecutors. Professor Elizabeth Sheehy says “the criminal justice system completely failed to appropriately condemn Borutski’s violence or to capture the acute endangerment his victims faced. And without convictions for serious crimes of violence he could not have been designated the “dangerous offender” that he appears to be.” She is right and this happens too commonly in domestic violence cases across Canada.

Too many women in Canada are living in fear of current or ex-partners. Many use monitoring devices and safety plans to try to keep safe. Escaping violence is not easy, especially where children are involved. Let’s call on our elected officials to take the epidemic of violence against women in Canada seriously. We can combat it together by mobilizing feminist organizations and addressing it as a major public health concern.

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 offers support, research and education to survivors and stakeholders.

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