I have written about violence in relationships before, and I will continue to do so until it is non-existent in our community.
Domestic violence is not just about physical aggression, but includes sexual violence and emotional and financial abuse. These behaviours have a staggering emotional impact on all members of a family exposed to it.
In most cases, women are the target of violence and abuse, but children, seniors and intimate partners can also be victimized.
Children are particularly vulnerable when they witness or are exposed to violence. They are at risk of emotional, behavioural, cognitive, and social problems. Many of these children experience immediate physical and psychological damage, and in some cases, it is life-long.
Some acts of violence are so horrendous, I cannot describe them in this article. To think that children witness these events, scenes that take an emotional toll even on first responders, makes me sick to my stomach. Some children end up losing both parents – one is dead, the other is in jail – and this has to stop.
It is not just extreme violence that causes major damage in a family.
Verbal abuse and name-calling, swearing and berating; emotional abuse involving controlling and aggressive behaviour; sexual abuse including unwanted sexual touching, harassment or intercourse; and financial abuse through which many victims are oppressed financially, living without necessities and unable to sustain independence, also destroy lives.
I belong to the Network to End Violence in Relationships (NEVR), a network of various agencies who are working to end abuse. NEVR, which is coordinated by Dr. Balbir Gurm, focuses on Surrey and North Delta and includes representation from social agencies and law enforcement, and works with nursing students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Our current students are clearly committed to ending violence in relationships from a public health perspective; they are working on a project to educate bar, restaurant and beauty salon staff about the signs of domestic abuse. As future nurses, they recognize the serious health and social impact of domestic abuse, and through their passion, education and action, I know they will make a difference.
On Nov.19, we are gathering with partner agencies and our community to hold a fundraising dinner at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey. The emcee for the event is well-known television personality Pamela Martin, and the evening will include an interactive play and an awards ceremony for students who took part in the Healthy Relationships contest through the Surrey and Delta school districts.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through the Grand Taj at 604-599-4342.
Jim Cessford is the recently retired chief of the Delta Police Department and has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement.