June 1, 2015 2:59 pm
Updated: June 1, 2015 3:01 pm

Why is Quebec’s #jesuisgabrielle campaign so important?

In Quebec, young women aged 15 to 24 have the highest risk of being killed by their partners or former partners -- but can #jesuisgabrielle change this horrifying statistic?

Alfonso Cacciola/E+

MONTREAL — With dozens of famous Quebec stars taking to social media to show their support for #jesuisgabrielle, many are wondering why it was started and more importantly, who was Gabrielle?

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Gabrielle Dufresne-Élie was just 17-years-old when, on June 8, 2014, just a few days after she graduated from École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais, she was discovered by paramedics with severe injuries to her throat in a hotel room in the east end of Montreal.

A day later, her former boyfriend, 18-year-old Jonathan Mahautière, was arrested and is facing charges of second-degree murder.

The key to breaking the cycle of violence? Talking about it

Breaking the wall of silence around relationship violence is vital, as fear, shame or embarrassment can keep women and girls isolated. Speaking out doesn’t just apply to victims: the voices of everyone in the community are important.

With this in mind, a dating violence awareness campaign has been launched by Quebec’s Jasmin Roy Foundation, with the support of Gabrielle’s family and Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

READ MOREWhy Canada still has a long way to go in tackling domestic abuse

It’s supporters include Quebec celebrities such as comedian Guy Nantel, actor Marie-Soleil Dion and singer Marc Hervieux.

A march is planned for Sunday, June 14 to commemorate Gabrielle’s spirit and to raise awareness of what is described in French as “violence amoureuse” (lovesick violence).

Supporters of the anti-violence campaign are sharing photos of themselves with a poster reading “Je suis Gabrielle,” and include Sue Montgomery, one of the creators of the #beenrapedneverreported hashtag that went viral in October last year.

Former Montreal Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery is supporting the anti-violence campaign #jesuisgabrielle.

Jasmin Roy Foundation

The march starts at 11 a.m. at the École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais on 5555 Sherbrooke Street East. Organizers said its objective is to “loudly” denounce relationship violence among young people, and to raise awareness about the effects of violence and the importance of prevention.

To find out more about how to recognize signs of relationship violence and also how report it, visit the Quebec government’s domestic violence website here.

Young women at risk

Statistics reveal that Gabrielle is not alone: a surprising number of teenage girls report incidents of violence in their relationships.

Did you know that:

  • women are the primary victims of domestic homicides: from 1995 to 2000, 95 women in Quebec were murdered by partners or ex-partners
  • young women aged 15 to 24 have the highest risk of being killed by their partners or former partners
  • in 2000, about 16,000 Quebecers were victims of domestic violence and 85 per cent of those people were women
  • domestic violence leads to an average of 16.8 deaths per year in Quebec
  • in one year, over 100,000 women in Quebec were victims of physical violence at the hands of their partner or former partner
  • many children of women who are victims of domestic violence are present during acts of physical abuse: 75 per cent witness the violence; 20 per cent participate in it and 11 per cent are also victims of the abuse*

WATCH: A report shows that 24 per cent of Canadians feel domestic abuse victims bring the abuse upon themselves

* Source: Quebec ministry of social services

© 2015 Shaw Media

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