Violence Prevention Grey Bruce has released a 'snapshot' of local domestic and sexual violence.
Coordinator Jon Farmer says "Violence against women, domestic and sexual violence and gendered violence happen in Grey and Bruce Counties and they happen to people of all ages, and we need to acknowledge that."
For the period from January to June of 2018, Violence Prevention Grey Bruce engaged 15 partner organizations to compile statistics listing the number of women killed, domestic and sexual violence calls to police, calls to women's shelters, women and children living in shelters, and families using Bruce Grey Child and Family Services because of domestic and sexual violence.
They report 339 domestic violence related calls to police over the 181-day period which Farmer says works out to 1.87 calls per day.
The number of calls to support and crisis lines run by The Women's Centre and Women's House Serving Bruce and Grey averaged more than 26 calls a day and totalled 4,784.
Farmer notes the calls to shelter services include calls from survivors of violence who continue to require support months and years after the incidents.
He notes "These numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more people experiencing violence in Grey Bruce who aren't captured in these numbers and who need support and services."
The Snapshot 2018 initiative is developed by the Southwest Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee (SWRCC).
They say 48 women were killed in Ontario in 2018 through acts of gender-based violence.
The Grey Bruce snapshot reports one woman was killed in our community in the first six months of that year. The organization does not name her, but past Bayshore Broadcasting News coverage shows 61 year old Janice West of Wiarton was killed in March of that year. 61 year old Ralph Henry Rudowski has been charged with murder, a matter which is still before the courts.
Looking ahead, Farmer says if people want to make a change in society to help prevent violence, there are plenty of things they can do, "Even something as simple as the language that we use to describe different people. Violence often starts with dehumanization through insults, through slurs, through derogatory language."
He adds reaching out to one another can help, "We can speak to people when we think that they're experiencing violence and offer support, we can believe survivors. We can stop blaming victims of violence and abuse. We can totally pull out of our language that any kind of suggestion that someone deserves to experience violence or deserves to be abused, because that's never the case."
Farmer says advocating for policy and proper funding and shelter can help prevent violence as well, "Precarious housing is a big barrier for people to leave violent and abusive relationships."
He adds talking to children and adolescents about what healthy relationships are can make a difference, "When we learn that as children it's a lot easier to keep those lessons into adulthood."