Tuesday, December 06, 2011
An End to Domestic Violence
As the years go by I wonder whether I should acknowledge the Montreal Massacre, the senseless murder of fourteen bright young women at the Ecole Polytechnique by a young man who had no provocation for his crime. After all, this terrible act occurred twenty two years ago.
I wrestle with whether I should revisit this anniversary, then I listen to my wife, Ruth, tell me the dark stories of domestic abuse which come out of her work as an outreach counsellor for the Bethesda House shelter in Bowmanville. She is careful not to reveal identities but some of the details are deeply disturbing.
Not long ago columnist Margaret Wente wrote a newspaper piece pointing out that the number of violent acts against women and rapes in this country have declined steadily over the past couple of decades, which is true. Training for police, different laws, and the option of shelters as a safe place have all worked to a degree. But Wente wrote from the position of a privileged, upper middle class person who just doesn't get it that this is so much more than statistics. Many of the clients of shelter counsellors have been psychologically abused and threatened with violence without a hand being raised to them. The scars are not visible, and these situations don't show up in violence statistics, but they are violent and destructive just the same.
To be fair, it isn't just women who are the subject of violence. I have talked with two men recently who are struggling with the relentless verbal abuse heaped on them by partners who become different people under the influence of alcohol. But the preponderance of reported incidents are abuse by men against women and children.
I should add that in these tough economic times governments at the provincial and federal levels are reluctant to fund shelters and provide adequate staff. The expectation for direct client service hours has more than doubled in the past four years in work that takes a huge emotional toll.
This Sunday some of our White Gifts will go to Bethesda House and I know the shelter is very grateful. I hope our children have some understanding of why Bethesda House is important in our community?
Thoughts and comments?