Cobourg first responders join awareness campaign on domestic violence

Cobourg first responders help launch the #SheCouldBe campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Cobourg first responders help launch the #SheCouldBe campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. Steve Guthrie/Global News Peterborough

First responders in Cobourg are partnering with a shelter for victims of domestic violence on a new awareness campaign.

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On Friday morning, officials launched the #SheCouldBe campaign, which aims to increase awareness and dialogue about the prevalence and impacts of domestic violence. The campaign is a partnership between the Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre along with Northumberland Paramedics, the Cobourg Police Service and the Cobourg Fire Department.

Cornerstone executive director Nancy Johnston notes that a key goal is to destroy the myth that domestic violence is more of an issue in urban areas than in rural areas like much of Northumberland County. She says #SheCouldBe is meant to represent anyone, since “domestic violence does not discriminate.”

She says that last year, Cornerstone provided support to more than 2,600 women, children and youth but the short-term shelter still couldn’t fulfill all the requests — 142 women and children could not be supported “due to lack of space and funding.”

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“Family violence is a real issue happening right here in Northumberland County,” Johnston said. “We cannot act otherwise. We need to come together to create solutions to this pressing issue and this campaign is a perfect way to highlight the realities and educate the community to get these conversations started.”

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First responders joined the campaign because they often respond to incidents of domestic violence and see its effects.

“Northumberland first responders hold unsettling stories they’ve had to witness, and they know first-hand it happens everywhere and could happen to anyone,” said Johnson. “They’re ambassadors for helping Cornerstone end domestic violence, and this is why they’re the face of the campaign.”

Cobourg police Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaff says the service received 129 calls of domestic violence in the town in 2018.

“We work closely with victims to ensure they get the help they need from Cornerstone,” he said. “We all have a role in ending domestic violence and I feel, as a first responder, we need to educate more and bring more awareness to this issue.”

The #SheCouldBe campaign will be promoted throughout Cobourg and include signage with QR codes for people to scan with their smartphones to learn more about the campaign or learn how to get help in a domestic situation.

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More to come.

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