Reports of domestic violence in Prince Edward County are an “epidemic,” according to the executive director of Alternatives for Women.
A recent meeting between local OPP and advocacy groups revealed that the numbers were on the rise across the county.
“The average, yearly, for domestic violence investigations is about 249 and the last time I spoke with the staff sergeant at the OPP, I believe he said it was raising to 272,” says Julie Watson, whose organization helps victims of gender-based violence.
She says a contributing factor to this disturbing trend is the worsening financial climate.
“Women have all these barriers already to leaving abusive situations and now they don’t know if they’ll have shelter. They don’t know if they’ll be able to afford food, especially if they have children.”
OPP community safety officer Aaron Miller says police have partnered with community organizations like Watson’s to look for solutions.
“Overall the trend of domestic violence occurrences is increasing in Prince Edward County so we’re reminding folks that there is help out there for individuals and this will continue to be a priority for our office moving forward.”
Holly Baines, the public engagement coordinator for Alternatives for Women, says one big piece of the puzzle is finding ways to teach young men to deal with their emotions better.
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“If you have no emotions and you can’t show any emotions, how can you have a relationship?”
She also encourages men to call out sexism when they see it.
“Flip the script, so that it’s not cool to be sexist, to be in control of your woman, all of those kinds of things that sometimes get puffed up in popular culture.”
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And while the numbers in Prince Edward County are shocking, Watson says it’s a nationwide problem.
“The national statistic is that every six days a woman is killed by her partner.”
It’s a statistic her organization hopes to one day change — one conversation at a time.