Last week several hundred people marched to the steps of the legislature as part of the MooseHide campaign, the aim of which is to draw attention to a plague of violence against women and children.
Earlier in the week a two-day training seminar was held for law enforcement officers, psychologists, social workers and others to educate them on the trauma caused by this type of violence and the long-lasting effects of domestic abuse.
VicPD has set the bar for dedicating resources to the problem of domestic abuse. Two officers serve on the Regional Domestic Violence unit and six others solely within the Victoria department. With the exception of Saanich, which has one dedicated officer dealing with domestic violence, none of the other Greater Victoria municipalities have any officers specializing in this area.
As much as the dedication of resources within Victoria is a start, far more need to be done.
The Ending Violence Association of B.C. reports that every year more than 60,000 B.C. women are physically or sexually assaulted. Only about 12 per cent of sexual assaults are ever reported to police and, according to the head of the Regional Domestic Violence Unit, the bulk of those cases are handled by line officers with limited training in the unique challenges faced by victims of these crimes.
That has to change. More resources are urgently needed. And it’s something that should be at the top of the agenda for municipalities and police departments around the region. Domestic abuse and violence against women and children in general has long-lasting impacts on the victims and those who witness it.
As a society we need to do more than wear pins and march in support of the victims, as much as those efforts help raise awareness. What is needed is a concerted effort to change our culture.
Reporting violence in one’s own home is extremely difficult and we applaud those with the courage it takes to do so. It’s also important that people who see or suspect that domestic violence is occurring speak out as a way to end the violence.