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Domestic violence report highlights services gap in Delta

Doug Sabourin -
Doug Sabourin
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A domestic violence report released by Deltassist Family and Community Services has found that services gaps in the municipality can leave women and children vulnerable.

The Delta Violence Research Project, released on Oct. 31, noted some services that are not available in Delta, such as transitional and second stage housing, a lack of available legal services, and programs for children who witness abuse.

"In 99.9 per cent of the time, it's the wife and family who have to move," explained Doug Sabourin, executive director at Deltassist. "And there's no transition house in Delta. Often, mothers and children have to be displaced and go to other communities to get service."

But Sabourin cautioned the report is about community perceptions of services, rather than an extensive analysis of what actually exists.

"This is a first phase in what we want to do. We want to help people understand what's out there and what's needed. This is not rigorous research."

He noted it's understandable services have lagged other communities because of Delta's relatively low population.

The findings of a community survey showed 37 per cent felt "very knowledgable" they would know where to go in Delta if they were in a domestic violence situation.

Only 18.5 per cent felt "very knowledgable" of where non-English speaking could access support or services in a domestic violence situation

An overwhelming majority, 89 per cent, indicated that embarrassment would discourage them from seeking help for domestic violence, while 61 per cent indicated fear of recognition by people they know in seeking help. That's especially true in South Asian communities, where fear of stigma can keep victims from reporting crime.

In a client survey conducted of former victims of domestic violence, nearly half had left the situation some time ago, 36 per cent were thinking of leaving, and nine per cent recently left.

Safety and counseling were top of mind for victims of domestic violence, with financial issues, transportation, and housing following.

In the report's recommendations, eight critical components were identified to create an effective justice response to domestic violence in keeping women safe: managing risk and victim safety, offender accountability, specialized victim support, information sharing, coordination and collaboration, domestic violence policy, use of specialized expertise, and monitoring and evaluation.

Those recommendations included things like ensuring South Asian women aren't referred to counsellors from their own culture, forming a domestic violence triage protocol, and using mainstream and ethnic media for Delta-specific domestic violence awareness campaigns.

According to the report, more than half of B.C. women have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16, resulting in 60,000 of these assaults every year. An estimated 12 per cent are reported to police.

According to statistics provided by the Delta Police Domestic Violent Unit, there were 165 reported incidents of domestic violence in 2011. Those numbers are projected to decrease this year with 116 reports as of Dec. 3.

While these statistics were provided by police, they were not included in the Deltassist report.

The Delta Violence Research Project was created to  increase awareness of domestic violence, the gaps in services for victim of violence, and assist community agencies in serving the needs of those victims.

The report is helping guide several community action events hosted by the Delta Opposes Violence Everywhere (DOVE) committee this week as it takes part of the Dec. 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. DOVE was the advisory committee on the project.

For the full report, visit www.deltassist.com.

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