We need better criminal response to domestic violence: crisis centre

(Courtesy Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter)

(Courtesy Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter)

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Vancouver police have answered several domestic violence calls at the Nguyen house, but that didn’t stop the tragedy from happening.

The city’s sixth homicide was a suspected motive of a domestic dispute; the last one happened only one week earlier. This renews a local women’s centre call for change in addressing domestic abuse.

Katie Streibel with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter says this confirms a strong need for better criminal response to cases of spousal abuse.

“We know that at least a few times the police were involved, that they knew that the man was violent, and to us that means they could have done more,” says Streibel. “Whether it means, in extreme cases, actually posting a police officer at a woman’s door to protect her, would be a start in cases where that’s deemed necessary.”

She also says the provincial government needs to do its part to make it possible for women to leave violent partners. “To raise the welfare rates would make an almost immediate difference, and would remove some of that barrier looking to leave violent men. I also think that women need immediate access to legal aid, and that would mean the province restoring funding.”

Streibel adds that criminal justice response to cases of domestic violence needs be swift and thorough.

“There’s a very alarming message, I think, that these attacks communicate, and it’s that leaving violent men is dangerous, which is true: the first 18 months after a woman leaves a violent man are very dangerous, he still has a lot of access and a lot of control, and a lot of motivation to hurt her. So the message being put out to women is that it’s dangerous, potentially lethal, to leave violent men.”

But Streibel says the women’s centre want to counter the message. They want to remind women who have experienced domestic abuse that they are entitled to the support of the provincial government, and the women’s shelter and the call center are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

This article originally appeared on News1130 on May 11, 2014.

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