Opinion: Breaking the silence to end the violence
This October marks the 23rd annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). DVAM has been observed across North America 1987 in an effort to bring greater awareness of domestic violence.
Yet, for an issue that affects many, the silence surrounding it remains deafening. It’s time people spoke openly about an issue that affects our whole nation.
According to the 2009 Family Violence in Canada report, nearly 40,200 incidents of spousal violence (i.e., violence against legally married, common-law, separated and divorced partners) were reported to police in 2007. This represents about 12 per cent of all police-reported violent crime in Canada.
And our province is among the worst offenders.
According to a Statistics Canada 2004 general survey, Alberta had the highest rate of reported family violence in Canada and leads the country in domestic assault, homicide-suicide and stalking.
Despite the fact that it happens so frequently, the stigma of domestic violence causes many to stay silent.
According to a 2001 Statistics Canada report “Family Violence: A Statistical Profile,” 12 per cent of women who have experienced domestic assault never told anyone about the abuse.
Websites devoted to domestic violence illustrate the fear and shame that surrounds those who try to break free of it.
The blog site violenceunsilenced.com, where survivors of domestic abuse post their experiences, features a disclaimer to only enter the site if you are emotionally supported and physically safe. It also has a ‘quick escape’ button on each webpage so that if someone is coming, the user can leave the site quickly.
Many domestic violence sites have instructions on how to erase browser histories so abusers can’t see evidence that their victims have tried to reach out for help. Even when trying to reach out for help, victims of domestic violence must always be looking over their shoulders in fear.
If society as a whole were to talk openly of domestic violence, perhaps those within it could have a stronger voice to break free of it.
If you or someone you know needs to break the silence of domestic violence, please go to brokenspirits.com for a list of all shelters, hotlines, and domestic violence support services in Calgary.