Tags: Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign, First Annual Conference on the Prevention of Domestic Violence, IANSA
One might find it impossible to think that a three day conference on domestic violence could be in any way uplifting. However, having just returned from the First Annual Canadian Conference on the Prevention of Domestic Homicide, I find that I am left with a sense of hopefulness. Although hearing about cases of domestic violence can hard to stomach, they are necessary to learn about and study so that victim advocates, government officials, the police, and health professionals can work together to prevent more cases from occurring by providing proper services to both victims and perpetrators and through enacting proper legislation.
During the three day conference, I met an officer from New Brunswick who single handedly initiated a project that changed the way his entire police department handles domestic violence cases, ensuring that all officers receive in-depth training on talking to victims and properly filling out perpetrator risk assessment forms in order to determine the proper steps to ensure victim safety. I met another officer, this one from Ontario, who established working relationships with twelve regional organizations (ranging from a public county hospital to a private catholic charity support group) so successfully, that they are now all housed in the same building, including those police officers assigned to the domestic violence unit. By working collaboratively and out of the same location, many of the time consuming steps that often deter domestic violence victims from seeking help are eliminated.
At the conference, we were allowed an exhibit by the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children in order to inform conferees about the Disarming Domestic Violence campaign. Part of our display focused on providing information about Canada’s Firearms Act, as well as the two proposals currently before Parliament that would eliminate the gun registry and effectively dismantle Canada’s harmonic gun control and domestic violence laws. Since my arrival in Ontario, I have been troubled by the fact that most domestic violence advocates I talk with are unaware of the proposals to change the Firearms Act. After mentioning this to a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Threat Assessment Unit, however, I have a better understanding of why this is so. As she explained, the lack of awareness is due to the strong and effective gun control laws that Canada currently has in place. Domestic homicides rarely involve firearms in Canada, as the Firearms Act helps to prevent perpetrators from acquiring guns. However, because there are threats against and proposals to eliminate the portion of the act requiring that firearms be registered, it is important that those with a vested interest in protecting women become more knowledgeable of this provision, so that they can help advocate against its elimination.