Domestic abuse support

DC STUDENTS RAISE AWARENESS:  Jaki MacKinnon, the executive director of the Bethesda House, a shelter for abused women and children
DC STUDENTS RAISE AWARENESS: Jaki MacKinnon, the executive director of the Bethesda House, a shelter for abused women and children

Reporter: Francis Viloria

The UOIT Student Law Association hosted an event discussing the issue of domestic violence, on March 19. The event featured guest speakers who talked about domestic violence and its impact in the community.
Meghan Rourke, a fourth-year Criminology and Justice student at UOIT, is the president of the Student Law Association.
“In Ontario between 1995 and 2005, 231 people were murdered by their partners or former partners,” said Rourke. Between 2002 and 2007, the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee noted that 94 per cent of the domestic violence homicide victims in Ontario were women.
“It’s been proven to be a valid worry, as research indicates that every year, approximately one in four Canadian female undergraduates experience some variation of sexual assault,” said Rourke.
“The Student Law Association is holding this event to raise awareness about the widespread nature of domestic violence crimes and violence against women in Canada.”
Dr. Shannon Vettor is currently a sessional instructor at UOIT for Investigative Psychology and Personality Psychology, and she speaks about domestic violence. In 2004 there were above 500,000 incidents involving sexual assult, said Vettor.
“Most people would say that most victims of sexual assault were female, and this is disproportionately true. One of the largest age populations of girls that are assualted are 15-24-year-olds,” she said.
The reason why it’s so high is because of the girls social lives, said Vettor.
“We (are) going out more often at night, stay out later, we will engage in legal drinking activities. What this does, it puts us in contact with drunk individuals, and as an offender, it gives the offender opportunity for potential victims,” she said.
But not just women get assaulted. It’s not often, but men also get assaulted. “Nine out of 10 are perpetrated against females, so this leaves about one per cent of them against males,” Vettor said. “In a self-report study, 14 -16 per cent of undergraduate males are being forced or pressured to have sex at some point during their adult lives,” she said. This is often done through psychological games, or physical force, and is mostly carried out by females in dating situations, she added.
Being attacked has a huge impact on the victim. It can affect the victims’ lives for day, for weeks, for months, forever, said Vettor. Some effects include, anger, confusion and frustration. Some long-term effects are depression, substance abuse, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Jaki MacKinnon is the executive director of the Bethesda House, which shelters abused women and children in Durham. The Bethesda House emphasizes that domestic violence is not just a woman’s issue, but it’s a community issue. “Twenty two per cent of home investigations that are opened by Children’s Aid Society are related to domestic violence in the home,” said MacKinnon. “If the domestic violence is brought to their attention, and there is domestic violence in the home, it’s considered child abuse,” she said.
Domestic violence plays a major part in homelessness, said MacKinnon. “Domestic violence is the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless, for homeless women, out of the women surveyed in Ontario,” she said. So the women go to the shelter to get their life back together, so they can start over, MacKinnon said. It’s especially hard for the women to leave their husbands because either they don’t want live on the streets with the child, or they have no place to go, said MacKinnon.
Sergeant Debb Anderton is a Durham Regional police officer, and she has been an investigator in the sexual assault/child abuse unit. The police get 5,000 calls a year on domestic violence, said Anderton. If the police have probable cause that a husband has abused his wife, such as a child saying that his dad has punched his mom, the police can arrest the husband right away, she said.