Statistics on women abuse too high
Leaving an abusive partner can sometimes be the most horrific ordeal any woman can go through.
According to Megan Walker, Executive Director of The London Abused Women's Centre, it is very difficult for women to step forward. Women are most at risk of being seriously injured or murdered at the time they leave their abuser.
“Leaving is the most difficult thing a woman can do. Women feel just as much shame as men. Very difficult for women to say, ‘I'm a victim of abuse' and mostly it's because we live in a society where victims are blamed and re-victimized.”
The London Abused Women's Centre works around the clock to ensure women's needs are met whether they call the centre or have an appointment to meet and discuss matters with a counselor.
Annually, the centre counsels approximately 450 women in person or over the phone as well as handling 1,200 annual calls. The women who are not seen at the centre are referred elsewhere due to a lack of resources.
“Women who come into this agency are some of the strongest, most courageous women I've ever met in my life. They are so inspiring. Can you imagine the strength it takes, to come into a place like this and risk your life? It's phenomenal,” Walker said. “We need to ensure all women have access to counseling services.”
The counselors are trained professionals who want to see women come out on top and believe that there may be hope despite their abusive situations.
Walker determines woman abuse to be none other than men “intentionally utilizing tactics to gain and maintain power and control over a woman's thoughts, beliefs and conduct.”
Abuse on a woman does not happen at early stages of a relationship.
“Women don't go on their first date and are abused,” stated Walker.
She believes woman abuse typically starts at the honeymoon stage or perhaps during a pregnancy. This is a time when it is extremely hard for a woman to leave her abuser due to her circumstances.
“Women face numerous obstacles when they decide to stay. Women sometimes decide to stay because if they leave, they know they'll be killed. Society needs to stop judging women for staying and instead shift the responsibility to the abuser,” said Walker.
In May 2006, John Daubs, once an abusive husband, had his court ordered night with his two daughters, Ashley, 15, and Stephanie, 12.
Around 7 pm in the evening, Daubs drove his 1981 Chevrolet Citation into a danger zone with his daughters in the back seat. According to the London Free Press, he proceeded to drive faster eventually colliding head on with a truck. Daubs along with his daughters were killed instantly.
This case had previous problems brewing in the couple's relationship and signs failed to be recognized while still allowing Daubs to have access to his two young daughters.
“We have a family law system and a criminal law system. What we don't have is a court system that allows for a seamless delivery of service,” Walker stated.
“When it comes to the division of the two court systems, they collide by having different perspectives being they are on “opposite sides of the spectrum.”
“There are too many gaps in the Criminal Justice System to appropriately respond to the issues. Justice of the Peace don't pay attention to risk assessments. They are allowing abusers to walk the streets.”
According to a report in A-News, in January 2005, 23-year-old Laura Wilson was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Jamie Vandersander 11 times; eventually being stomped on by his steel toe boots.
Previous signs indicated Wilson's life was in danger when Vandersander broke a bay window at her residence while also slashing her tires.
Vandersander also stabbed Wilson's friend in the shoulder during the altercation while she attempted to save her friend's life.
Could such a tragedy been prevented?
Immediate action needs to be in place, so there are no more victims such as the Daubs sisters and Wilson, who lost their lives in the hands of people closest to them.
“It is better to invest in preventing this in the first place, then it is in responding to this on an on going basis. Let's invest in strategies that promote equality for women,” Walker pointed out.
The centre provides ongoing counseling services for women and offers options on where a woman can turn if she and her children are living in fear.
A recent study conducted by the World Health Organization found that the cost to society for the upkeep of shelters and counseling centres dedicated to helping abused women and their children are at nearly $6 billion annually.
“Women and children are the largest consumers in our health care system,” confirmed Walker.
Abuse should not be tolerated by anyone. If you suspect someone you know or witness to be a victim of abuse of any kind, do not hesitate to call your local police station. You might be saving a life.
For further information, go to www.lawc.on.ca