31 Things British Columbia Can Do Right Now to End Violence Against Women
19. Hold offenders accountable for impacts on children of violence against women
On any given day in Canada, more than 3,000 women, along with their 2,500 children, are living in an emergency shelter to escape male violence. Children see, or hear, 40% to 80% of family violence incidents and many face the same consequences as those who are directly abused. The likelihood of children witnessing violence is heightened when the victim is estranged from her partner. In 2009, over half (52%) of spousal victims with children reported that their children heard or saw assaults on them in the previous five years. This was up from 43% in 2004.
The reality is that women who experience violence are forced to parent under duress and often have to take on the work of addressing the impacts of violence for their children, however, that does not mean they should be held responsible for the violence their children witnessed or its impacts. Yet, child protection workers often informally requests that the mother take responsibility for preventing the offender from having contact with the child without offering support in having family or criminal law orders amended to support the woman in preventing such contact. Child welfare files and psychiatric assessments often focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator of violence because medical professionals and other institutions concerned with children’s well-being focus their interventions on mothers. This issue needs to be addressed in social work practice and in the practice standards of other professionals who intervene with families.
Women in British Columbia have waited too long already. That is why we are offering 31 things that BC’s new Provincial Office of Domestic Violence (PODV) can push for right now to increase safety for women and to bring us closer than we have ever been to ending violence against women once and for all. We are calling for 31 social, economic and legal changes, none of which are unachievable in this province. Some would require very little financial investment, and each of them will save resources in the long term given the high costs of violence against women.
For more information:
Follow The Violence Against Women in Relationship Act – 2. Audit for compliance with BC’s Violence Against Women in Relationship policy
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