Preventing violence against women paramount

The B.C. government released some sobering statistics this week.

The B.C. government released some sobering statistics this week.

On average, more than 32 abused women seek shelter in British Columbia each day – and there were an estimated 70,000 sexual assault incidents in  the province in 2014, with women or girls the victims in most cases.

This is obviously unacceptable, especially given that most incidents of violence against women go unreported.

The issue should always be top of mind, more so during the annual Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, which runs through April 23.

“As a witness to domestic violence in my childhood and as a police  officer for more than three decades, I understand how threats, economic  and child custody concerns, and other significant challenges, can limit a  victim’s opportunities to break free,” Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris said this week.

“Nobody should interpret the  pervasiveness of violence, or limited reporting, as a sign that the problem is acceptable or unassailable.

“It is neither.”

Morris said the longterm goal is “Violence Free B.C.” in which women are safe from all forms of violence.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to engage as many people as possible in changing attitudes and response to violence.

The popular #SaySomething public awareness campaign last year was an excellent start.

It featured some thought-provoking ads,  spread via social media,  featuring text conversations designed to raise awareness of domestic violence.

It also promoted practical advice and tips to help British Columbians better understand what they can do to safely help those  experiencing domestic violence.

“Recently, we expanded this campaign through the launch of new ads that challenge attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate sexual violence,” said Morris.

He encouraged all British Columbians to visit a new website (www.saysomethingbc.ca).

It provides additional information  for witnesses, family and friends, and victims of sexual violence themselves.

He pointed out that supports to victims of violence in B.C. – including more domestic violence units and enhanced outreach programs for vulnerable  women – provide the vital resources and expertise needed to help victims become survivors.

Confidential help is available in a variety of languages (toll free) by calling the 24/7 VictimLingBC line at 1-800-563-0808.

Not just this week, but every week, we should all strive to work together to assist these victims.