Help prevent violence against B.C. women: Know the signs

NEARLY seven in 10 Canadians have known a woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse. As part of Crime Prevention Week, the Province wants to help ensure British Columbians know the signs of violence against women and how they can help.

Violence against women happens in all cultures, religions, and ethnic communities, at every age, and in every income group. Violence against women can include:

* Physical abuse, such as slapping, choking, and punching or using objects as weapons.

* Using threats, intimidation, or physical harm to force unwanted sexual acts.

* Emotional and verbal abuse. Examples include threatening to harm family or pets, making degrading comments about a woman’s body or behaviour, and actions that limit freedom and independence.

A woman who is being abused may be apologetic and make excuses for her partner’s behaviour, or be nervous when her partner is nearby. She may also seem sad, lonely, withdrawn, afraid and use drugs and alcohol to cope.

You can help a woman impacted by violence by:

* Talking to her about what you see and letting her know you’re concerned.

* Telling her you believe it’s not her fault.

* Encouraging her not to confront her partner if she’s planning to leave as her safety must be protected.

* Offering to provide childcare while she seeks help.

* Volunteering your home as a safe haven to her, her children, and pets – if your own safety is not at risk.

Help is available at any time to victims of violence in B.C. If your safety is in danger, please call 911 right away. You can also call your local police detachment or VictimLink BC, a toll-free, confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in more than 110 languages at 1 800 563-0808 (www.victimlinkbc.ca).

If you have reason to believe a child is being abused, neglected, or needs protection, please call the Helpline for Children at 310-1234 (no area code required). This number will connect you with a child welfare worker at any time.

Government is currently working on a long-term, comprehensive strategy to move towards a violence-free B.C. and help ensure women, including Aboriginal and vulnerable women, have the supports they need to help prevent violence, to escape from violent situations, and to recover if they have been victims of crime.

For more safety information, contact the BC Crime Prevention Association at 604-501-9222, [email protected] or visit http://www.bccpa.org