While it’s good news that crime numbers in Williams Lake continue to show signs of improvement, as statistics released by the RCMP at Tuesday night’s council meeting show, there is still a major problem in this community when it comes to spousal assaults.
As the story on page A1 and A2 in today’s paper notes, there were 84 spousal assaults in 2011, the same amount as in 2008 — and those are the ones that are actually reported.
If you suspect someone is being abused by their spouse, don’t turn a blind eye.
Williams Lake’s Violence Awareness and Prevention Committee and the Women’s Contact Society have five action points that can be used to end violence against women, though the same points can be applied to male victims as well: listen to the victims and believe them — you may be the first person they tell about the abuse — and be supportive and non-judgemental; make violence your business — keeping violence private helps no one; if you believe someone is being abused, ask them, but don’t put yourself in danger by intervening in a violent situation — call the police instead; raise non-violent children and talk to them about violence, teaching them how to find non-violent ways of resolving conflict; help children protect themselves and develop confidence and strong self-esteem, and let them know they’re important as individuals in and out of a relationship; and encourage people who commit violence to get help.
Spousal assaults occur in every demographic and in every community, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or impossible to stop. Simply arresting the perpetrators and recommending charges to Crown isn’t the only solution. It starts with education, listening, and the whole community standing up to say violent behaviour is not acceptable.